This is the twice-weekly hidden open thread. Post about anything you want, ask random questions, whatever. You can also talk at the SSC subreddit or the SSC Discord server.
This is the twice-weekly hidden open thread. Post about anything you want, ask random questions, whatever. You can also talk at the SSC subreddit or the SSC Discord server.
Note that when the police are ordering it, the NYT still disapproves but suddenly it’s not a “horse tranquilizer”.
I suspect you meant to use a different url for that link?
Oops, yes, sorry …
I live (at least for the time being) in Minneapolis. This has caused quite a lot of uproar. I think it’s extremely abusive for the police to do something like that.
I seem to be a bit more accepting of short-term emergency measures than many people. Or maybe more accepting of them as applied to people with social leverage. If one were to wind up escorted by the police off the property because of some accusation, for example, I don’t think that should be the end of the world if things get worked out later.
[For example: There was an event a while back in which a tenured philosophy professor said something that was probably not a threat but could have been interpreted that way. I don’t think there should have been any long-term ramifications of his doing that, but he also seemed super-offended by what happened immediately after. It’s not reasonable to treat such situations as if the people dealing with them have perfect knowledge.]
I can imagine circumstances where extending this general principle to short-term sedation directed by “emergency services” (broadly speaking) would be acceptable. But what the article describes sounds less like an organized system than a local tradition without much thought or retrospective oversight (before now). So yeah, that does seem really bad.
What does this even mean?
It means a lot more people are agitated about purported civil rights violations against college professors or business people or the wealthy than they are about the same violations against working class or poor people, because there’s supposed to be an assumption on the part of law enforcement that those people almost never do those things.
So I might be about as accepting of emergency measures against people with less social power as most people are, because I’m more accepting in general and other people are more accepting in particular.
The “date rape drug” thing is terrible. My current front-runner for worst reporting of the year. The only mention of ketamine in the Minneapolis police manual (online and easily searchable, god bless the Information Age) is as follows:
This is about as willfully misleading as saying “Police often employ the murder weapons automobiles” and it makes me unable to trust every other part of the article.
Isn’t every drug that either serves as some form of sedative and/or alters one’s consciousness in any way potentially a “date rape drug?”
Is tequila a date rape drug? Because I have to say, I have definitely given tequila to a woman in the hopes that it would have an impact on her decision on whether or not to have sex with me before…
As someone who volunteers in EMS, I have a few thoughts on this. Please note that I don’t have any inside information and, as usual, reporting is sufficiently low-information to make proper evaluation impossible.
Ketamine as a legitimate medication. In EMS, it has 2 major uses: as a pain management drug and as a treatment for “excited delirium”. Not all services/States allow use for either/both conditions. For pain management, it’s gaining traction because it is not an opiate and doesn’t generally cause respiratory depression.
“Excited delirium” is a controversial diagnosis which frequently could be described as “someone did too much cocaine/PCP/mystery meds and as a result their core body temperature is reaching the ‘well-done’ state and additionally they won’t stop moving”. In these cases, sedation with ketamine stops that whole process, both hopefully allowing body temperature to start returning to normal as well as calming them enough to be treated/transported.
When it comes to any form of patient care, the police *should* never be dictating what’s happening. However, this is made more complicated by two separate factors. First, if the patient is in police custody, it’s possible that the police are responsible for ensuring/providing consent for the patient. This can be useful in some cases, but can make other things more complicated. Second, the police are armed and can mess up your day. In my EMS class, we were basically told that if the police force you to do something, try do get your supervisor to talk to their supervisor, or get your medical command physician to talk to them or something. But at the end of the day, the police have the guns, the tasers, and the handcuffs; make sure you live long enough to write up the paperwork.
In my experience, the police will call EMS if they suspect there’s an issue with someone they are investigating. At that point, we’ve always been supported in what decisions we make. Partly this is the area in which I volunteer. Partly it’s because of a long series of lawsuits against police across the country for failing to provide good medical care.
If I had to guess, this is probably a case of police suspecting excited delirium and people who are sufficiently agitated to be a danger to themselves. But as I noted, there isn’t nearly enough information to make any determination.
Sounds more like the police using the drug as a chemical restraint rather than to treat any condition.
That’s absolutely my fear in this case. Regardless, they are going to have to go to the hospital, so I’m not entirely certain how this makes things any better for the police, unless it’s for the LOLs.
Is there any record of any policeman in the United States ever actually shooting an EMT or other medical professional for refusing that policeman’s demands re: medicating suspects?
Because there’s a limit to how far the rest of us are going to let you get away with the “I was just following orders” defense if you do things like this, and if the victim turns out not to be indigent, you’re almost certainly going to be named on the same multi-megabuck lawsuit as the cop who gave the order.
Googling a bit, I could find a couple related cases where the cops treated EMTs or medical personnel badly, but they seem to have gone badly for the cops in question.
The Utah nurse case and a Oklaholma state trooper who got i trouble for stopping an ambulance with a sick patient in it.
Neither of these were anyone getting shot, and the victims were able to push back pretty effectively. I don’t know how representative these were, but they seemed to back the idea that EMT/medical personnel are probably not easy for police to get away with mistreating. (And that’s what you’d expect–the police and EMTs have to work together all the time; making enemies of the people you work with all the time is probably a bad idea.)
The much more likely case that the training focused on was on the issue of abandonment. Once you start caring for a patient, you cannot stop care (absent a number of things). Doing so is a crime. So the obvious case is: what happens if you think a person *really* needs to go to the hospital and the police are insistent on you not taking them/arresting them instead?
I don’t personally know of any EMT who’s been shot by police. However, I’ve heard of cases locally where the police have threatened to arrest EMS/fire for shutting down traffic in one direction on a freeway without asking first because it was required for the safety of the crew responding to a vehicle collision, or to land a helicopter. Police were not on-scene at the time to “request permission”.
I keep hearing of “Excited Delirium” as the go-to diagnosis / excuse when some local coroner and some local prosecutor don’t want to prosecute the local cops for electrocuting someone to death with their TASERs.
Is this basically “he went nuts and we didn’t know what else to do so we kept zapping him with our tazers/bashing him with our nightsticks/applying chokeholds/etc. till he ended up dead?”
I don’t think that coroners formally use the term “excited delirium.” The closest icd10 code I found (using wonder) was F05, “Delirium, not induced by alcohol and other psychoactive substances,” which has risen from 100 in 1999 to a plateau of 900 in the last few years (not to mention delirium induced by drugs). (Before 1999 they used icd9. Supposedly the corresponding code was 293, but that was very rare, never more than 11 and 0 in 1998. So probably I’m missing the actual choice of code.)
I never noticed (despite the title) that the WaPo list of people killed by police, based on news stories, is actually only a list of fatal shootings. But the Guardian includes tasers. They only found 50 taser deaths in 2015 and 22 in 2016. That matches the “dozens” that I hear about when googling “excited delirium,” but small potatoes.
Here you go: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20180428/12235039737/cops-help-naked-possibly-suicidal-schizophrenic-man-tasing-him-to-death.shtml
I’m not familiar with the context, what’s that about “horse tranquilizer”?
Link seems to be broken, but I hear that phrase a lot about ketamine. See for example (archive link because fuck Gawker). It has been used as a veterinary tranquilizer, but it has medical uses in humans too — Wikipedia cites it as a surgical anaesthetic, though apparently mostly in specialized niches (pediatric, obstructed airways, situations when mechanical ventilation isn’t available) because it causes wild hallucinations in high doses.
Mostly, it’s a way to make it sound scary. It will sedate a horse – you’re not a horse, are you?
Also, it has a number of “unclean” properties which I suspect have lead the public and medical professionals to dislike it, somewhat irrationally.
It’s a dissociative anesthetic. At low doses, it produces a form of euphoria. Yay! At mid-level doses, it causes hallucinations. At high doses there’s complete dissociation and somebody is effectively “unconscious”. Hallucinations are not exactly a “side-effect” that people want to deal with.
This poses a few problems. It’s pretty much impossible to go to/from the unconscious state without going through the “hallucinations” phase. In an ideal world with a cooperative patient, you might have them imagine themselves on a beach. This way, when they come out of sedation, that’s what they’re thinking of. In the case of uncooperative patients, they can end up with terrifying hallucinations and require being restrained until they pass. Also, there’s a level of inhibition which occurs with ketamine – this is known for making patients “handsey” with the staff, which may also require temporary restraints.
The euphoric properties and hallucinations result in the drug being popular recreationally. And professionals don’t want to be associated with stuff used by “those people”. See, eg., heroin being illegal in the US, despite morphine and lots of other drugs being legal.
Finally, I also suspect that it’s an issue of the mechanism of action for ketamine not being fully understood. Opiates are nice in that we mostly understand how they work and the effects are fairly targeted. (Pay no attention to new research showing that they have effects beyond u-opioid receptors in the brain – Standard of Care!) Ketamine has a lot of other interesting properties, such as potential use for treating refractory depression. That means it’s one of those dirty psychiatric medications.
Would heroin be a useful pain medicine, or is there some reason why it just doesn’t work as well as morphine or some other opiates/opioids for that? (That is, in a world where heroin wasn’t a drug of abuse, would it be used a lot medically?)
I was blown away when, in my father’s last days on hospice, the medicine they sent me to the drug store to get was morphine with an oral dosing syringe. I’m a big, pretty healthy guy, but I’m pretty sure that by that point, a reasonable pain-management dose of morphine/fentanyl/etc. for him would have been a lethal dose for me.
Yes, heroin is a useful pain medication, though it was originally marketed (and given its brand name by the Bayer corporation) as a cough suppressant (another thing opioids are good for). Some countries allow it to be prescribed. The DEA’s schedule I officially requires “no medically accepted use,” but in fact a lot of the schedule I drugs have medically accepted uses that the DEA has arbitrarily decided to ignore.
Double-proxy marriage: get married in Montana with neither party present.
Sometimes used by people in the military, when both the bride and groom are stationed abroad.
Since it’s the CW thread, and since the US and China just fired off another salvo in their trade war (is it officially a trade war yet?), can we talk about Trump’s trade policy, or lack thereof? I’m sure we’re all tired of the econ 101 arguments, so I’ll just repeat that economists are really big fans of free trade, and raise a couple other questions:
Assuming these tariffs do make it profitable to run a steel mill in America, what sort of lead time are we looking at to actually reap the benefits? I assume you can’t exactly turn a blast furnace on and off like a light switch. What are steel-using industries supposed to do in the meantime? (And why give just 60 days for everyone to find a new supplier?)
How bad is it, so far? 100 billion in tariffs is kind of hard for me to contextualize, are we talking “economy sinking” or “drop in the bucket”? Are we doing better or worse than when Bush tried this in 2002?
Lastly, since it seems that nobody’s backing down from this and we’re stuck with it, is this actually a winnable fight we’re picking, in any sense? Because it seems like we put tariffs on basically all our major trading partners at once, so we don’t have any allies in this fight. And our first round of tariffs was aimed at protecting a specific industry, while the retaliations are optimizing for the number of votes they’ll cost Republicans. What are our odds of actually getting a better deal out of this?
Total US imports in 2017 were about 2.3 trillion (and US GDP is about 19 trillion). 100 billion is large enough to matter next to that, but I’m not sure where that number’s coming from — the reporting I’ve seen on this so far has jumped between “$BIGNUM in tariffs” and “tariffs on $BIGNUM of goods”, which are two very different things. I’m inclined to believe the less alarming interpretation, but I could be wrong.
I feel pretty confident saying that no one is going to open up a steel mill or make any significant capital expenditure on the basis of these tariffs, because you don’t have any reason to be confident that the tariffs will still be in place after 2020. You might delay a planned shutdown or run at higher capacity. Those benefits could be seen quickly but don’t seem likely to be large.
On the cost side, this is pure anecdata, but I know someone who does commercial real estate who says that the extremely large project that he’s working on (billions of dollars) is postponed for a long time. The various tariff moves that have been made mean that all of the contracts with suppliers and builders and such need to be renegotiated. I imagine there must be many similar stories.
It seems to me like practically every trait, quality, behavior, etc. has some study claiming that it’s actually partly genetic / heritable. So what traits or behaviors do we have evidence are minimally genetic / heritable?
I think which religion you are is not especially heritable. (Religiosity is, but *which* religion tends to be determined by your family and culture and experiences.)
I also think that there’s this paradoxical thing that happens with all traits that are partly heritable and partly environmental: As the society becomes more egalitarian and makes sure everyone has their basic needs met, everything becomes more heritable and less environmental. That’s because when we measure how heritable things are, we’re measuring how much of the observed variation in that trait is explained by genes vs environment. As you get the environment to be more and more uniform (at least to the point that almost everyone has the resources to reach something close to their potential), you eliminate more and more of the environmental causes of variation.
Imagine a very poor society. Height is still partly genetic. But now, a lot of kids don’t get enough to eat–much of the variation in height is based on who got enough to eat as a kid, which means less of the observed variation is based on genes. Move forward to a point where that society has plenty of food, and a lot more of the observed variation will end up being genetic, because the variation that formerly came from differences in diet will have mostly gone away.
Similarly to religion, party affiliation has very low heritability (OTOH political ideology is very highly heritable!)
From the same study, “ethnocentrism” and “sense of civic duty” are also quite low.
Bryan Caplan’s “Selfish reasons to have more children” states that the likelihood of adopted children to report that they enjoyed their childhood, or that they thought well of their adoptive parents, is strongly predicted by the adoptive parents and has little correlation with the children’s genetics. One would hope so! But after reading enough “X is genetic” studies, it’s nice to see.
How do people think the Trump administration experiences such a decisive loss in the battle to frame their policy of arresting people for border crossing.
As background, my understanding is that prior to the new policy, if you crossed into the country without authorization and requested asylum when caught, border patrol did a risk assessment and released you if they thought there was a pretty good chance you would show up for your court date. Of the people released, 7-8% of the immigrants with lawyers failed to show up, and something like 30-40% of the immigrants without lawyers didn’t appear at their court date. Trump’s new policy is that all people who cross illegally are going to be charged with an illegal crossing (although any asylum petition will also be heard), while people who appear at the border and request asylum won’t be charged. (Although as is common with the Trump admin, they seem to be unprepared for the effects of this policy, and the wait time at the border is reportedly weeks in some cases). Since the parents are arrested and you can’t keep people in jail, this has the effect of separating kids from parents.
I don’t know if the policy is a good idea, but I’m astonished at how universally this is reported in the media as “The Trump policy of separating immigrant children from their parents” rather than “The Trump policy of arresting and prosecuting asylum seekers who crossed the border without authorization for their border crossing.” It’s not even that one is more accurate than the other – it’s just a total framing win. Can we move on to describing drug possession prosecutions as “the policy of taking away people’s kids if they are found with marijuana” and describing Kelo style condemnation as “the policy of taking people’s homes against their will?”
Because it is the separating children from their parents part that strikes people as Obviously Wrong. If Trump et al were to detain illegal immigrants with their children, this wouldn’t be a story. Pretty much everybody accepts that people who get caught trying to sneak across the border are going to be detained until they have at least a preliminary day in court. Only outright open-borders activists have any real argument against that, and most of them know it isn’t a winning argument right now. But the bit where you put the border-crossing parents in a locked room and put their children in a different locked room, seems gratuitously cruel and the administration doesn’t even seem to be trying to spin it as anything else.
It was a story before the “children separated from parents” issue came to light. People have been talking about how Trump is hurting innocent immigrants since before he was elected. If the children were reunited with their parents, they would just go back to that narrative.
They’d obviously go back to another anti-Trump narrative, but I think some stories are more effective than others at moving the needle among people who can be swayed.
I am not the cosmos, and I live in a bubble, but I am the sort of person who sits in the middle and can be swayed — I am not for open borders and wouldn’t mind a wall, but I am unsettled by the separation of families as a matter of policy. Obviously just speaking for me, of course.
As an example of an ineffective “narrative,” the outrage over calling MS-13 members “animals” didn’t strike me as something that worked.
It was, and in your hypothetical would return to being, a much smaller story that fewer people care passionately about.
This has been an interesting discussion on all sides, but I’m most interested in the framing.
Presumably, the policy question is: “Is arresting people for illegal border crossings worth the cost of separating them from their children?” If so, the most information-rich way to alert people to begin considering the problem would be something like “Trump’s policy of charging all migrants in this country with illegal border crossing is having the effect of separating people from their children” rather than “Trump has a policy of separating people from their children.”
But Sessions clearly and completely lost the battle to get headlines to acknowledge his preferred framing. My working hypothesis is that the media is (a) disproportionately liberal, so the anti-Trump frame makes more sense; (b) not likely to grant Trump the benefit of the doubt because he’s a rich offensive boor who hates them; and (c) the Trump admin did a bad job – they really needed to work the ref early to get their story acknowledged, and it looks like they didn’t.
Also, I think the Trump administration benefits politically among its base of voters by being seen to be overtly hard-assed and hard-hearted on this issue.
I think there’s something of ‘sacred values’ here. People don’t think in terms of utility calculations, it’s ‘if in explaining your policy one of the steps says NOW LOCK UP CHILDREN SEPARATED FROM THEIR PARENTS’ then the policy is bad’
With a caveat of the fact that the US isn’t in massive about-to-collapse crisis and therefore might need to do this to prevent some truly existential threat, I’m inclined to sympathise with this.
I object to the phrasing “Trump’s policy of charging all migrants in this country with illegal border crossing is having the effect of separating people from their children” as more misleading on two counts. First, it is the policy of detaining all those charged which has that effect; it is completely possible, and was done under Obama, to charge people but release them. Secondly, this framing suggests that the family separation was an unintended consequence, not a deliberate deterrent. My impression is certainly the latter.
I don’t understand the question. The media is always going to frame anything Trump does in the worst possible light. Why would this be any different?
There’s only one response really needed: “There is a 100% guaranteed way to not be separated from your children by border patrol agents: do not sneak into the country illegally.”
Separating children from their parents(*) is almost universally regarded as a thing that is harmful to the children. If it is also harmful to the parents, this is in large part because the parents will know that their children are suffering harm.
So, it’s hard for me to read your “only needed response” as indicating anything but that the real plan is to threaten to hurt children in order to make their parents do what you want. Phrased in the usual lame-ass “look what you made me do!” way so beloved of terrorists, tyrants, and two-year-olds trying to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. Is that really a stand you want to take?
* Absent abuse or severe neglect, which is not generally the case here.
Yes? Among the many reasons I don’t commit crimes is I don’t want to be separated from my children. It is a reasonable deterrent to criminal activity.
I would very much like to see the wall built, and patrolled by men with guns who shoot on sight so that people get the message do not come here illegally. This will solve the problem of children being separated from their parents, and stop the rapes that happen to 80% of the women and girls who cross the border illegally. An awful lot of evil will be prevented if the government could just perform the extremely basic governmental function of controlling the borders.
It may be an effective deterrent. So would, e.g., tracking down where the remittance money is going and sending armed Predators to take out the recipients and their households.
Reasonable, is another matter. Anything that involves openly punishing children for the actions of their parents, with or without Hellfires, you’re going to get pushback on the “reasonable” part. As in, approximately every swing voter in the country will, if forced to chose between de facto open borders and the Trump/Honcho “punish the children” plan, will go with the open borders.
Also, you’re talking about punishing children for the actions of their parents, and you genuinely don’t seem to understand that this makes you one of the Bad Guys.
If you manage to make the connection in most voters’ minds that says that border enforcement can only be done by armed guards shooting to kill and sending children off to prison camps, you might as well just spend a lot of money funding a campaign for open borders.
Now, there’s no way to enforce laws that isn’t sometimes ugly or harsh or violent. If you enforce immigration laws at all, sometimes that’s going to involve dragging someone kicking and screaming out of their home or something. But like 99.9% of immigration enforcement can be done humanely and with normal legal processes, if your goal is just to get illegal immigration down to a manageably low level. Hell, just actually fining employers of illegal immigrants enough to make it uneconomical to hire illegals would achieve this.
It seems to me that Trump and his movement are very excited about symbols, especially ones that show resolve and toughness. Armed guards shooting to kill, a big intimidating wall, etc. But mostly that’s not what you need, and in fact, a lot of it is counterproductive to your stated goal. Recall that most Americans are actually pretty-much on board with immigration enforcement. But they’re not going to be on board with a version of it that looks like it’s being run by the East German police.
The people trying to get into the US are trying to escape even worse conditions at home.
I’m a little confused by applying the “think of the children!” argument to this particular instance.
I mean, surely the children of murderers are innocent victims. And surely throwing their parents in jail causes them to have their family torn apart. Does it automatically follow that we shouldn’t jail murderers, because doing so has a negative impact on other innocent people?
I’m with Conrad on this one. His response is entirely reasonable, but also is not even specific to illegal immigration. If you don’t want to be separated from your children by the state, don’t commit a crime for which you will likely be imprisoned, detained, or otherwise placed in a location where your children will not be allowed to accompany you.
Most criminals take actions that are actively trying to improve their own condition. How is this relevant?
In the context of whether it’s a deterrent, it matters what the other options are.
A sizable fraction of the world lives in very bad conditions. At an individual level, the desire of the average guy living in, say, Haiti or Bolivia or Bangladesh to come to the US is rational and even laudable. But that doesn’t mean it’s a prudent policy for the US to take in everyone who would like to come.
Fortunately, we don’t have to act like the villain in a bad action movie to avoid taking in everyone who’d like to come here. We can just make it uneconomical to employ illegal immigrants by making the fines large enough that a large-scale employer of illegal immigrants is risking bankruptcy the day ICE shows up on the worksite–at that point, the demand for illegal immigrant labor will dry up, and like 90% of illegal immigration will stop.
There’s no need to do the Sheriff Arpaio bit here, and a lot of reason not to–both humanitarian reasons (it’s a shitty thing to do) and political reasons (it turns moderates against immigration enforcement). On the other hand, Trump and company really love to play the tough guy on TV, and it plays well with their base, so I expect we’ll do more dumb, cruel, but politically effective crap in this area.
Are you serious?
First, we aren’t talking about murderers.
Second, it is extremely rare for both of a child’s parents to be murderers, and even more so for there to not be a non-murderous uncle or grandparent or something close at hand.
Third, we aren’t talking about murderers, but even when we are and especially when we are talking about lesser crimes, we can usually see that one of the parents won’t be a flight risk while caring for a young child and arrange for bail, and often even for probation after a conviction.
Fourth, when occasionally we are talking about irredemably dangerous and unsympathetic husband-and-wife murderers, we are talking about such vanishingly rare occurrences that they are treated as one-off exceptions rather than established policies.
And fifth, we aren’t talking about murderers. I’m pretty sure that if the Obama administration had established a policy that, e.g., when they found any undocumented firearms in a home they immediately locked up both parents without bail and sent their kids off to live behind barbed wire, you’d be first in line to use this as an argument that no, in fact, we shouldn’t jail illegal gun owners, or at least not all illegal gun owners under all circumstances.
And I think that you would expect that even most people who lean kind of in favor of gun control would see that this particular policy is an abomination, and I think you would find that many of them in fact did. Same deal with “lock them up and take away their kids, in advance of trial, for e.g. illegal drug possession or tax possession or pretty much any other nonviolent crime. Power Word: ForThuChildruunn! is a real thing, and it works. Handing it openly to your enemies will outweigh any marginal gains you might gain from enhanced deterrence, and is a stupid loser move.
At least in a democracy, and Trump presides over one of those whether he and his followers like it or not.
For a real world example, when the Texas child protection authorities took three hundred children, from infants on up, away from their parents to protect them from being taught their parents religion (fundamentalist LDS), most of the media approved–and didn’t bother to note that the authorities were routinely lying about the facts. The individual parents in question were not even accused of having committed a crime, let alone tried and convicted.
Let’s say that I think it’s wrong to separate felons from their children. You reply that if they didn’t want to be separated from their children, they shouldn’t have committed felonies. How is that not a good response?
You can do three things with that:
You can say that it’s unacceptable to separate the children and lock up the kids with the parents.
You can say it’s unacceptable and say that no parent is allowed to be punished and let them roam free.
Or you can accept that separating children from parents is sometimes necessary.
I don’t really believe that we have to separate illegal immigrants from their children. Building a wall and enforcing current immigration laws would get most of the way there in deterring illegal immigrants. But the framing is just ridiculous.
Along with them just hating anything Trump does, there’s also the fact they basically believe open borders to be a good thing. They don’t explicitly say it and they might not even consciously believe it, but if we followed the policies advocated by the top figures on the left, we would have de-facto open borders. Just a couple of years ago, they simply thought we shouldn’t deport anyone who had been here a while. Now they have a problem with trying to stop people at the border. I would love to see someone explain how you can have anything short of open borders once you let anyone in and refuse to go after those who are here illegally.
> They don’t explicitly say it and they might not even consciously believe it, but
If you’re willing to believe arguments of this form about the outgroup, there is absolutely nothing you cannot justify doing to them.
Or at least, there’s nothing you can’t justify believing about them. This is more-or-less the structure of the very lowest tier of political arguments that “explain” that white Republicans may not *describe* themselves as racist, sexist, homophobic bigots, or even believe it about themselves, but their voting pattern proves that….
I agree with Wrong Species here.
I DO know where white Republicans draw the line when it comes to bigotry — pretty much all will denounce Nazis and the KKK, most seemed to denounce Roseanne’s tweet, many will denounce Steve Sailer (although I do think Sailer is in a different category from the KKK). I may or may not think their bar is too low, but I know where it is.
But on immigration, I know people who object to deporting undocumented immigrants, object to putting a wall on the border, object to putting armed guards on the border, but don’t claim to be open borders. Most will agree to deporting undocumented immigrants who commit violent crimes, but other than that they don’t talk about enforcement at all.
My rebuttal to Wrong Species would be that when you actually put a liberal in charge of border, as in Obama’s presidency, he DID enforce it. Obama had armed border patrol turning people away, he did have deportations from the interior, he did many of the things that the Democratic rank and file object to under Republican presidents. Like above, you may think that Obama’s bar for enforcement was too low, but it’s clear where that bar was, and that it was located above “open borders”.
So I agree with WS that if you go by what the average liberal says they want from immigration enforcement, it amounts to “open borders” for all practical purposes. But that mostly seems like empty talk from people who don’t actually have any responsibility for enforcement.
Yeah, the disconnect here seems to be one between what liberal voters say they want, and what the people they choose to elect actually do.
Perhaps an analogy is with Republicans and decreased spending. Republican voters loudly demand spending cuts, but you can give them the executive, legislative, AND judicial branch – and wouldn’t you know it, the cuts simply never materialize.
When you had a conservative in charge of a major city government (Rudy Giuliani in 1990s New York) he kept his predecessors’ “sanctuary city” policy in place, putting him at odds with the Clinton administration.
It’s not like I’m just making something up without any evidence.
Over the last 10 or so years, mainstream democratic rhetoric has been that we shouldn’t deport anyone who has been here over a certain amount of time.
They use euphemisms instead of calling them “illegal immigrants”.
They now seem to oppose any more security to the border.
Mainstream media sources write very sympathetic profiles of open border advocates.
Any hint of deportation is now meant with hostility.
They codify in to their laws that they will not help the federal government with deportations, in fact they actively resist any attempts in their states.
And they even go so far as to tip off immigrants who are about to be deported.
It doesn’t really take much to put two and two together. At the very least, they have been moving closer and closer to open borders advocacy. What do you think are the chances that Democrats will actually be more supportive of tougher immigration enforcement in the next decade? And if it’s low, then you have to ask how much closer to open borders can they get without actually advocating it?
Nobody seriously wants the poorest half a billion or so of the world’s population to move into the U.S., even if those poor people would really like to. At least, nobody in the chattering class wants their own neighborhood to be 75% unskilled laborers who don’t speak English. But the virtue signalling game means that nobody wants to be seen as That Guy who is publicly willing to endorse any concrete step to prevent that scenario.
As far as I can tell, normal poverty means that one or two family members emigrate, work, and send money home.
People only move en masse when life is extremely bad– war, extreme crime, natural disaster.
That pattern might change if immigration were easier.
As far as I can tell, it’s already starting to change.
The refugee ships that are still coming to Europe are filled almost entirely by Africans. Are they all coming from active warzones?
I was under the impression that “undocumented” rather than “illegal” immigrant was used because it’s actually a more accurate term. IIRC, something like 40% of these people actually came to the US legally, and then overstayed their visas, often while in the process of applying for legal residency. So it is more accurate to say these people “do not have proper documentation” than that they “immigrated illegally”.
When you find yourself using “they” more than a dozen times and it all traces back to the vague predicate two posts up the chain in someone else’s posts of “the media”, it is very likely that you are just making something up without any evidence.
Even without the vague predicate, all those “they”s are a very bad sign.
What part specifically of what I said do you dispute?
People are missing the forest for the trees, here.
The Trump administration itself has been framing it this way for over a year. They have repeatedly said that separating children from parents was a good “deterrent”.
More broadly, they are losing the framing “battle” because they aren’t framing for general public consumption. They are framing for either a) the Trump support base, or b) a “general public” that doesn’t exist except in their head. They are falling victim to the “typical mind” fallacy.
As Biggie said “never get high on your own supply”.
I’m with John Schilling and HeelBearCub. The optics are terrible because they are. The Trump administration has seen a lot of stuff said that maybe could conceivably cause a person to think that they don’t really care much about the people they’re doing this to. This is disregard for optics, or, they’re sending the message they intend to send. That some of the people coming at him don’t have 100% pure motives, behaviour, whatever isn’t relevant to the question of Trump/his admin’s motives, behaviour, etc.
Has there been any sort of long thread yet on the “children’s concentration camps?” I’ll just go check that one out if it’s already been done.
My baseline assumption on all these stories is that they’re overblown, that Obama’s administration did something similar, etc. But other than that one Twitter thread Scott linked to I don’t know what the counter-narrative is to this.
… at first I thought you were talking about children’s concentration camps in Nazi-occupied Poland.
Yeah I suppose that language isn’t THAT widespread but I see it on Twitter. Though I’m not liberal myself, I live in a liberal bubble.
I posted something immediately downthread. The main difference is that the Trump administration is arresting everyone who enters the country illegally for the illegal entry, whether or not they request asylum* when caught. There was a court decision during the Obama administration that apparently prevents Trump from keeping the kids with their parents while the parents are being held in jail, so the arrests have the effect of separating the families, just like any other arrest does.
So Obama had similar camps, but Trump’s policies have the effect of putting more kids in them.
* Asylum requesters still get their request considered, but also get arrested for illegal entry if they entered illegally. They can go to the border and request asylum without being arrested, but the waits are very long, as long as weeks.
Wasn’t there some huge crisis of unaccompanied minors coming across the border during the Obama administration, where all these minors had to be put in some kind of juvenile detention/care place while their cases were worked on? I wonder how differently that would have been reported if it had happened under Trump. (Though it’s also quite possible that the Trump administration didn’t think through what was going to happen when they enacted their rule, and the whole crisis is utterly self-inflicted.)
Your experiment happened, when some photos from 2014 were spread virally by people (including Obama’s speechwriter) who thought they were current.
More evidence that Jordan Peterson’s concern over being forced to use pronouns or such is not overwrought.
The story is about a conservative Christian teacher who refuses to use trans pronouns, but who also doesn’t want to misgender. So he compromised by calling all students by their last names, initially with support by the school. However, later they demanded that he calls students by their preferred name.
Don’t have the link handy, but Ozy pointed out recently that there’s a difference between refusing to use preferred pronouns and refusing to use preferred names, since names aren’t even 100% gendered–it’s a lot harder to make the argument that “your name isn’t really Evan” than “you’re not really a he”. There are some absurd implications–would the teacher refuse to call an AFAB person Evan until discovering that she preferred female pronouns and was named after Evan Rachel Wood? Or would he insist on calling someone by their birth name even if their legal name was changed for Anglicization reasons when they were adopted at age 6 months? What if Kimberly doesn’t identify as trans but wants to be called Kim because it sounds more gender-neutral?
I mean, I’d argue that given the documented health detriments of misgendering, schools should be allowed to forbid it regardless of the teacher’s beliefs (teachers also probably shouldn’t be allowed to try to stop kids from being vaccinated), and that’s probably my true rejection, but if you feel like People Should Be Allowed To Make A Principled Stand maybe it’s useful to consider what exactly the principle is when it comes to preferred names.
“Preferred” names shares an issue with pronouns in that you’re making a demand where there’s no cost to yourself and a noticable cost to those who speak to you. If someone insists their preferred name is “Princess Consuela Bananahammock”, and you must refer to them that way, this is obvious. It’s not so obvious when Michael insists on being referred to as Sue or vice-versa, but I think the cost is still there.
Makes it rather less ambiguous and does, in theory at least, impose an appropriate cost.
I would say for some students there is a cost. Those who don’t enjoy calling attention to themselves need to correct every teacher who looks at the roll sheet and sees a different name, and every substitute, and so on.
I went by my middle name growing up, and had to tell everyone “please call me Randy” from first grade to late college. At work I gave up and just decided to have a different name at there than at home rather than bother correcting everyone.
However, I’m not sure “people who don’t enjoy calling attention to themselves” make up a non-negligible portion of our population any more. (That’s a joking tangential comment on our culture).
Anyway, the other point is that I think most teachers will try to accommodate nicknames at present. I had an Asian student come up to me before class once while substituting to inform me of her preferred nickname, lest when calling roll I call out the English slur it was a nigh homophone for.
What if the boy’s name really is Sue?
Well, there are two possible responses to Peterson’s concerns about Canadian law.
1) Peterson is wrong – there’s no possible way he’ll be forced to use preferred pronouns under the proposed law.
2) Peterson may be right, but we should use preferred pronouns in reasonable cases.
As, I believe, he himself said he would. So, “but” should be “and”.
It seems that you didn’t read what I wrote. The teacher used last names, which isn’t misgendering, but nongendering.
I think that a demand to not misgender is way more reasonable than a demand to affirm.
Furthermore, the policy of the school goes even further than require affirmation of legally changed names. It requires affirmation of the name that the student wants to be called by, which seemingly can include nicknames.
A situation ripe for exploitation. I’ll tell my Canadian friends to choose the nickname “We Ought To Worship Jesus.”
(Who knows; it’s barely possible one of them might actually do it.)
I flip the script a bit. Whenever I have to fill out “preferred pronoun” in some event’s registration or “hello my name is” nametag, I put “Sir”.
It puts scowls on the faces of the people it’s supposed to, a smile on the face of the people it’s supposed to, and once lead to a long and fun conversation with a transman (who personally hates the whole public issue, and considers the people who are making it an issue to be making trouble for people like him for their own jollys and his costs.)
So has anyone figured out why pretty much nobody in the US and UK went to prison for what happened on the way to the 2008 crash? As I recall from The Big Short, one fairly junior banker got tossed in jail, but that was all. You’d think some ambitious attorneys general would have gone on the hunt. Iceland managed to jail 29 bankers. Why didn’t that happen more broadly?
There is a rule in the Tour de France that riders who finish a certain amount of time after the winner get disqualified. Occasionally, due to special circumstances, most of the riders finish too late. In those cases, the riders don’t get disqualified, because it would completely change the Tour de France, which the powers that be don’t want.
Bankers also broke the rules in large numbers and jailing them all would completely change banking. The powers that be don’t want that.
“Rich and powerful avoid punishment for crimes where assignment of blame is non-obvious” — quelle surprise! I don’t think there’s much to explain; Iceland is the exception not the rule.
IANAL. My guess is: it’s easy to prosecute companies and get a few billion out of them, it’s much more difficult to actually find a specific guy and stick the fault on him.
Because the people most responsible are the same people who would be doing the jailing.
The government doesn’t really want a long drawn out public spectacle to determine the exact causes of the financial crash. That, uh, wouldn’t end well for them…
Ha! That sounds like my answer. I’ve been in discussions where someone else complains that those responsible never got punished for their crimes, and my usual response is “yes, and they continue to be elected!” It is kind of facetious, but I do believe the biggest cause of the Great Recession in the US was because of laws encouraging more debt of those with a low likelihood of repayment, and of laws that encouraged more debt period.
‘US and UK’
What did the UK government do to cause a crash in the UK?
What, exactly, would they be jailed for? As far as I can tell, the only people who committed outright fraud were the people getting no-doc mortgages based on false income reports, and possibly the agents doing the mortgage paperwork with them. Going after them would mean that you’d be going after very poor people who likely lost their home, or junior bank employees who make okay money.
Going after either of these looks bad (why are you picking on poor people?) and it’s also very expensive from an investigation/impact perspective. A few thousand to investigate/prosecute/plead each case, when the difference between what interest they would have paid with correct income reports vs. incorrect income reports is probably in the same ballpark.
If, instead, you go after the senior bank officials, you have to find some form of crime that they themselves committed. Merely going after them for the collapse allows them to point at the people getting mortgages and the agents and say “but they committed fraud! I relied on their statements!”. That makes a prosecution much harder to succeed.
I would have prosecuted them for the robosigning frauds and the titledeed frauds. Such prosecutions would not have needed to prove intent, or even executive awareness.
If I were in a legal dispute with a bank over my mortgage, and it turned out I had forged some of the documents I was using to prove my case I would have rightly ended up in jail. But when large financial companies did the same thing, it somehow turned out to be a forgiveable misstep.
It looks like there were two criminal prosecutions for robosigning, targeting a total of three executives at two of the five companies which had to pay civil claims for robosigning.
One of the cases resulted in a conviction and a five-year prison sentence for the defendant.
The other case was dismissed due to prosecutorial misconduct in obtaining the indictments. This article has more details on the misconduct. The dismissal was without prejudice, so the prosecutors had the option of starting over with a new grand jury, but it doesn’t look like they did so.
I’m not sure why there were no indictments against people at the other three companies.
I agree with you on the foreclosure fraud. But my hazy memory seems to think that occurred after the crash, rather than prior to it. I was responding more specifically to the pre-crash events.
Yeah, it occurred after the crash, and IIRC, it mostly involved flunkies.
The bulk of securitized mortgages were arguably administered fraudulently from the time of their first transfer, because the administrators lacked legal standing to do so.
Yeah, to Skef’s point, the mortgage originators appear to have cut corners getting the documents where they were supposed to be, and some people presumably knew before the crash that many of the documents that were supposed to be physically held by the trust weren’t there.
But on the gripping hand, the question is why no one was punished for the financial crisis, and robosigning and the missing documents didn’t contribute to the crash as far as we know.
I suspect a look into the ratings agencies would have dug up something.
Yes, they are being paid by the wrong side of the transaction: the sellers.
1) Do you have a model of what crime US bankers committed? My model is that too many of them made the same kind of loan with a specific risk, and when that came up (i.e. when housing prices dropped enough to leave enough marginal homeowners underwater that people no longer wanted to buy risky mortgage backed securities), we were all in trouble. But if that’s really what happened, then it’s hard to say that it’s crime to sell mortgage backed securities if too many other people are doing it.
2) I think most people trust Preet Bharara, and he said his office looked at the conduct and said they concluded it wasn’t criminal.
I’m not sure, and that’s why I am asking. But it seems strange that people could package up increasingly crappy mortgages into highly rated bonds, and those bonds kept their high values despite the drop in input quality, and no one did anything wrong in the process. I suspect some sort of negligence or conspiracy.
Why isn’t the question then “how come no major regulators went to jail”?
That’s also a good question.
If the regulators looked the other way, and doing so is criminal action, they should have.
But I’m thinking the regulated institutions may have done something worse than gain unreasonably lenient treatment from regulators. I’m wondering how they managed to do what they did without breaking the law themselves.
One of the potential answers is that they hewed close enough to the regulations to not break the law.
Lets take a clearer example, Bernie Madoff clearly violated the law on many counts over many years. He had been investigated by the SEC several times before that and there was at least one private person supplying them with information attempting to expose the fraud. They found nothing, and the fraud had been ongoing since 1991 (wikipedia).
This article in 2011 claims that no one at the SEC was even fired for the SECs failure to uncover the fraud, let alone went to prison.
The truth of the matter is unknown to me, but I would agree that there is probably a strong argument for none of the SEC personnel going to jail or even getting fired. There was probably a lot of “he pretty much did what the rules said”, which is an outcome of a complicated rules based system. The rules end up taking a lot of the blame (which is great for the people writing/working around them, not so great for the rest of us), and a lot of the focus ends up going to “lets change the exploitable parts of the rules” which inevitably leads to other exploitable aspects which will be the “cause” of the next big issue.
At a large tangent …
I recently read through an 1810 translation of the statutes of the final Imperial Chinese dynasty. One thing that struck me was a repeated pattern:
If the criminal who committed crime type X is not caught due to malfeasance by the relevant authority, the relevant authority gets a severe punishment (sometimes the punishment the criminal would have gotten). If the criminal is not caught but it isn’t due to malfeasance, the relevant authority is still punished, just not as severely.
Good God, those are some really perverse incentives. While it’s nice that the local magistrates can’t get away with ignoring serious crimes, punishing them for not coming up with a guilty party pretty much guarantees routine scape goating.
Punishing the wrong person, or imposing the wrong punishment on the right person (too heavy or too light), were also punishable.
But of course, to be punished they have to be detected.
Negligence isn’t criminal most of the time (rather it’s a civil tort). It can rise to criminal (manslaughter is the famous example).
The mortgages were crappy, but selling a crappy financial product isn’t a crime as long as you disclose what you’re selling. The idea behind most investment law is that the government isn’t in the business of telling investors what to or not to own, rather it wants investment creators to give investors facts and investors can decide what to own from those facts. It has much higher levels of protection for retail investors, who aren’t seen as able to judge the investments well.
The crappy securities generally gave the facts,
I’ve linked an offering document of a crappy security product.
It says, we’re going to take investors money, and buy some low rated mortgage products, write default insurance on other low grade mortgage products (criteria for selecting these notes is provided), and send the proceeds from this to the investors for 4-8 years. Here’s some historic performance figures and our guess at performance given these assumptions upon which the guess depends, and here’s the team that will be running things.
Presuming that the mortgages they bought and wrote insurance upon meet the criteria they outline, and the team running it starts, even with hindsight, what in that document is a lie?
Remember these weren’t retail products, they being sold to sophisticated investors (which is a term that means they are large, well capitalized, and agree to bypass the SEC’s investor protections to have access to investments that can’t or won’t meet the requirements).
I suspect the Business Judgement Rule is also at play here: bad judgement is specifically not illegal, and finding a crime or tort against corporate directors and officers for a business decision requires showing something similar to actual malice. “I’m really bad at my job” is a legitimate defense against charges of negligence in making a business decision.
In the case of the mortgage crisis, the difficulty in overcoming the burden of the business judgement rule is compounded by just about everyone in similar positions making very similar bad decisions, which seems to make it more likely that everyone was making an understandable mistake rather than acting maliciously or even just being really bad at their jobs.
Fortunately or unfortunately negligence, gross negligence, and even recklessness based crimes are rare to the point of absence in US white collar law. In order to have secured a conviction the prosecutors would have had to prove that the relevant people acted knowingly or intentionally and that’s tough to do. Especially in a world where emails are purged after two months to save disk space (come on!)
The book “Chain of Title” provides an interesting perspective on this question. The financialization of the mortgage market involved the unilateral scrapping of legal requirements on documentation. As a result, any time an issue would wind up in court, the lender side would forge the documentation they were supposed to have. If you or I did this and brought the forged documents into a court setting we would be put in jail. The (special, dedicated to dealing with title issues) courts just shrugged.
This was one way a number of people who owned their homes outright or had mortgages with other companies lost all their personal belongings, when errors in forged documents resulted in homes being falsely foreclosed on and the lender sent in trashing crews prior to flipping.
This is a common narrative, which I think is wrong (popularized by a Rolling Stone article). Do you have anything–a name, a link–to someone who was foreclosed on who didn’t have a mortgage, or was up-to-date on their payments?
All the cases I’ve found were cases where the person had a mortgage, which was in default, but the mortgage had changed hands. Note that the US has an extremely expensive and unwieldy system for title, so what happened in securitization was that the lienholder of record didn’t change, but they assigned their rights to someone else.
I don’t think “forgery” is the right word, or an accurate description, for printing documents from an electronic record that are accurate, rather than bringing original “wet-ink” copies of them.
In many cases, there were affidavits asserting that the electronic records existed “signed” by people who were no longer working at the company doing the signing, and sometimes by people who were dead. I don’t think that, in general, the mortgage companies were trying to defraud their customers, but that’s still the kind of thing that I, personally, would get in big trouble over if I did it in such a case. Further, how would you tell if the electronic records here had been altered or misentered, given that the official paperwork hasn’t been filed anywhere? There’s no original to go back to. That strikes me as a significant problem.
I’m not going to research the individual cases, but here are a couple of press articles by the author of the book.
I would say that any back-dating of a document (name X is associated with a document on date Y when person X had no familiarity or interaction with either the document or its subject on date Y) constitutes forgery.
If you is gambling with other people’s money, and earning an income from it as long as the gambles are paying off, there are some troublesome incentives. Once you start losing a little bit, you are already facing losing your job and income stream, which is the worst loss that can happen to you. So it makes sense to try ever riskier and more desperate moves to get back in the positive; the risky moves could wipe out your clients, but the worst that could do to you is get you fired, and you are already going to get fired for subpar performance if you don’t turn things around. And if the risky moves succeed, you can save your job. But, of course, the most common outcome is that the risky moves fail, and the clients lose everything. There were a number of things that contributed to the 2008 crash, but at least some of this was going on (and this phenomenon has been involved in a number of notorious crises). It is not easy to construct laws or regulations that effectively prevent this kind of problem from arising; obvious things to try like regulations concerning acceptable risk run into severe problems measuring risk, and of course people gaming the risk measurements were another big factor in the crisis.
The bankers were held to the same standard in all three countries; the difference was only that the Icelandic bankers were much more criminal. Icelandic prosecutors didn’t go “on the hunt” for ambiguous activities, but prosecuted actions that are prosecuted everywhere, like insider trading and embezzling.
In a prior open thread, I discussed how the Biblical prohibition on spilling one’s seed comes from the story of Tamar, Judah’s daughter-in-law, and promised to tell the similar story of why religious married Jewish women cover their hair in public. Instead of doing that, I got very sick and withdrew from the world for a while. I’m here to correct my mistake.
First a quick review: Tamar is married to Judah’s son Er, who errs (sorry) too much for God’s taste and kills him before he and Tamar have a child. In the tradition of those days, Tamar is re-wed to Er’s brother, Onan, so that he may conceive a child with her in Er’s stead. Onan doesn’t want to, however, and utilizes the 100% pull-out method to avoid conception (hence “onanism”). God is not a fan of his shenanigans and kills him too. From this story it is obvious that spilling one’s seed in any context (e.g. masturbation), even when not obligated to conceive a child on behalf of your dead brother, is a terrible, terrible sin.
For the hair-covering thing, we turn to Numbers 5:12 (and on), which describes a fool-proof adultery-detection process. If you are a man who suspects your wife has cheated on you, you go to the local kohen and have him mix up a meal offering. Then he gathers up some dust from the floor of the Tabernacle and gives your wife a magic potion of water + floor dust (ew) to drink. She does so, and if she was cheating on her husband, she explodes. Otherwise nothing happens, you buy her some flowers to apologize, and go home secure in the knowledge that she wasn’t cheating on you.
(Sadly, this magic adultery potion is only available at your area Mishkan or Beit Hamikdash, none of which currently exist. Modern Jewish men must resort to asking to see their wives’ phones.)
Anyway, you’ll note that in verse 18, before the kohen gives the woman the potion, he is described as exposing the woman’s head [‘s hair]. (My Hebrew’s not great, but it definitely just says “head”. On the other hand, there’s generally a lot of reading between the lines that goes into Torah analysis.) From this we infer that all married* women should cover their hair in public**.
*Why not all women, period? No clue.
**Why only in public? Ditto.
The actual lesson one should learn from Onan is not that masturbation is forbidden, but that there’s a substantial penalty for early withdrawal.
(ducks and runs)
Sounds like a pretty standard trial by ordeal.
I know about a similar ritual from the pre-colonial Kingdom of Imerina in Madagascar, called tangena*. Toxic nuts were collected from a native shrub of the same name and fed along with strips of chicken skin to the accused, or, if the accused was of high social standing, first to an animal proxy and then to the accused if the animal died. If the victim vomited up all the strips, they were deemed innocent; if they failed to, or died in the process, they were guilty. This was used to try several offenses, but especially witchcraft, accusations of which seem to have been common. The general logic of this sort of thing is similar to a trial by combat: supernatural forces would know the facts if humans didn’t, and would aid the innocent while punishing the guilty.
There’s probably all sorts of nasty shit in Biblical-era floor dust. If you eat a lot of it, stands to reason it might cause swelling in the belly and emissions from the kinds of body parts “thigh” is often a euphemism for.
(*) I actually learned about this from reading Flashman’s Lady, but it seems to check out.
I’ve also seen it speculated that this was a way of inducing a septic abortion under the guise of trial by ordeal, so that you have the option of pretending she passed and everything’s fine (assuming she, you know, survives).
I would respectfully disagree with this interpretation. I think the reason that Onan is direct willful disobedience to God in a particularly self serving manner. He is out for his own pleasure. It is one thing refuse to produce an offspring and thus refrain from relations. Onan instead goes ahead and takes advantage of Tamar and then pulls out. If the lesson was “don’t spill your seed” there would be much clearer stories to tell.
Entobat’s “it is obvious” seemed obviously sarcastic to me. But I suppose obviousness is rarely as obvious as people think it is.
FWIW, I think the second terrible is a clear tell of sarcasm. You can see the church-lady finger wagging accompanying it.
I claim Poe’s law as a defense.
Affordable Housing is Your Spare Bedroom
NYT opinion piece about how the affordable housing crisis (?) could be ameliated by changing local zoning codes to allow renting out spare rooms and mother-in-law cottages again, like it was in the 1930’s.
No where appearing in this article is a reference to changes in fair housing laws which limit the ability of landlords 1) to be selective on who they rent to and 2) to be selective and swift in terminating rental agreements.
IMO it is this assumption of risk that lowers willingness of homeowners to lend out their living space to others.
Federal fair housing law has a “Mrs. Murphy exception”* which specifically allows descrimination in this kind of context. State and local laws may vary though.
*Seems like kind of an unfair nickname. Why Murphy?
The second bullet (terminating leases) is much more important than the first about discrimination.
If you’re in an area with a drawn-out eviction process, being a landlord is an extremely risky endeavor. I mean, there’s always some risk–it only takes one night to rip out all the copper, after all–but if you get saddled with somebody who doesn’t pay their rent, or leaves a half-inch of dogshit all over the entire floor, and you can’t do anything about it for eight months, that’s a huge cost to eat.
On a related note, this stopped me from making the life of a young man better. A distant friend of mine was charged with a number of crimes, stemming from an allegation of mismatched-age highschool sexual contact (they were both students) which I investigated as well as I could and believed that there was no risk to myself.
I was willing to let him stay at my place for no charge while he got his life together – there were a number of fast-food places hiring within walking distance, and the local community college was easily accessible by bus/car/bicycle, or an extended walk.
After consulting with an attorney, I realized that there wasn’t any way to make this work. He needed a fixed address of residence that he could list for parole. But I couldn’t do that without him qualifying under the law as a tenant or domestic partner or some other criteria which might (theoretically, hypothetically) result in me being thrown out of my own house and having to resort to a complex landlord/tenant process to resolve which could take weeks. That’s not a risk I’m willing to take over a piece of property I own.
So, instead, he floated between several different distant relatives which aren’t very convenient to employment or education. He’s making a go at college, but it certainly requires more resources than which would otherwise be required.
I think the idea of renting out a spare room is a great idea, although a pretty limited change in zoning laws. I suspect zoning laws are responsible for a large part of the homeless population and unaffordable housing in the US. There is a law in my city of Minneapolis about the number of unrelated people that can live in one residence. There are discussions about refining these rules to allow things like mother-in-law apartments, but the best change would be to repeal them altogether. Luckily they didn’t enforce those regulations when I was in college 40 years ago, or I never could have found affordable housing.
Netflix film crews banned from looking at each other for more than five seconds.
Have you tried timing it out?
Now THAT would be creepy.
Disturbing if true, but this is the Independent, so my prior is “almost but not quite completely made up”.
I posted about this because I thought efforts to teach critical thinking to children was interesting, but the first half hour and a bit at the end is Ugandan children, and I don’t think it sounds like an average IQ of 70.
No, it doesn’t. Something doesn’t add up about IQ research, which is extra weird because it’s one of the few things in psychology not effected by the replication crisis.
Surprisingly, either one works in this context.
IQ research in Third World countries is probably terrible for any number of reasons. Language barriers between the test takers and the researchers, little cultural knowledge of IQ tests (thus possibly no Flynn effect), subjects not taking tests seriously, probably others. Then you can add the real IQ effects based on environment which are rare in the First World, like undernourishment and parasite load, which would affect some subgroups much more than others.
But to be fair to IQ researchers, in Nigeria you have the Igbo, acknowledged as high IQ. Supposedly a lot of 419 scammers are in fact Igbo, though I don’t know whether this is true or merely said as a result of the Igbo sharing with the Jews not just intelligence but the property of being a common scapegoat.
I’ve heard a fair number of rationalists take the idea that the average IQ in sub-Saharan Africa is 70 as something that’s solidly true, even though it seems very implausible.
I can easily believe an average score of 70 on IQ tests in sub-Saharan Africa. What I’m extremely skeptical about is that an average score of 70 among Liberians means the same thing it would mean among Americans, in terms of predicting ability to function in society, keep up in a fast-moving verbal discussion, fix a broken machine, etc. A sub-population of Americans with an average IQ of 70 is a complete wreck–basically unable to provide for themselves, at constant risk of being taken advantage of or ground up in the gears of the complicated legal and social systems we’ve constructed, etc. I very much doubt this is true of the average person in a country where the average IQ is 70. An IQ of 70 probably means you can’t hold down a job as a janitor in the US. This chart purports to show IQ ranges for different occupations–I don’t know how accurate it is, though. (I’ve seen it quoted before but not dug into it.)
The only reason IQ is interesting is because it correlates with a bunch of important stuff we care about, like how well you do in school and how well you perform your job and such. (Otherwise, you’ve got something like the implicit association test–lots of theory to explain why it should be meaningful, but no particular reason to think it *is* meaningful.) The data that calibrates this comes, as I understand it, from studies in first-world countries. In that environment, I believe it gives us better predictions of success than almost anything else we could ask for. But I don’t see a reason to expect this to be valid across this big a difference in culture and conditions.
 Though maybe someone’s done this in third-world countries, too. Anyone have a cite?
Personally, I am *extremely* skeptical that IQ scores taken in the third world, on kids who grew up in completely different and much worse conditions than you can find anywhere in the first world, mean the same things as IQ scores taken in the first world on kids who grew up with enough to eat and regular schooling and such. This makes me think that attempts at international IQ comparisons are probably not easy to tease any meaningful information from.
We know that not getting enough to eat as kids makes people broadly dumber as adults. IQ scores should capture that fairly well, unless you want to do eugenics with them or something. Regular education is something else — that could plausibly steer people’s thinking away from abstract, symbolic reasoning in ways that’d show up on an IQ test but wouldn’t affect daily life much. But an average of 70 IQ is such an extreme claim — equivalent to the average being about as smart as the dumbest kid in your class in elementary school, maybe the whole school if you were in a good area — and so at odds with what we see on the ground that I don’t think it gets us all the way there.
There’s something else going on here.
If the average African-American IQ is 85, then given what we know about heredity, the average IQ in Liberia should also be 85 if their nutrition and parasite load are under control.
OTOH, I’ve heard evidence that many African countries have schools that are better than inner-city American schools despite lack of money, because kids are enculturated to honor teachers rather than act like stereotypical lower-class American kids.
I don’t follow that. The average African-American is only in part descended from people in sub-Saharan Africa. Consider how much blacker sub-Saharan Africans look than most African-Americans.
Liberians have significant descent from African-Americans.
What Nybbler said. Liberia is the country in Africa where you’d find the most genetic similarity to African-Americans.
My mistake. I wasn’t thinking about the special history of Liberia.
But, according to Wikipedia,
Which suggests that most of the ancestry of the present inhabitants is sub-Saharan African, with a small admixture of Afro-American and Caribbean, so I think my conclusion still holds.
Has anyone here read any of Ted Kaczynski’s writings, and if so, what did you think of it?
I’ve read the first half or so of the manifesto. He’s clearly intelligent and makes some reasonable points. But my overall impression was that the “motivating” section is an attempt to unify a set of social positions that doesn’t really work.
In particular I found the argument associating “oversocialization” with “the left” to be weak and shoe-horned. There are a lot of cultures on the planet even now where (to exaggerate) the first decision you get to make is the choice of flower arrangement for your parent’s funeral. That is, plenty of societies “socialize” a lot more than the present (or recent past) U.S. does, and you could argue that one of our problems is atomization. What’s clearly bothering Kaczynski is something more like (to use an ugly word) “pansification” — he sees other men as sissies and so forth. But he talks about that concern almost entirely in terms of autonomy or the lack of it as if the behavior he prefers reflects a natural, unadulterated state and men aren’t also routinely “socialized” in his preferred direction. Regardless of whether pansification is a genuine problem, therefore, his discussion is too general to address it.
So his overall point starts to come across as amateur, ill-informed sociology. There is a set of things bothering him and he attempts to pull them together into a framework but doesn’t really succeed.
Don’t diss Kaczynski or his lawyers will appear with a cease and desist… again.
He’s been discussed rather often in previous open threads.
I used to find his writing/ideas interesting enough to consider putting together a talk on them, but two things turned me away:
1) Reading his brother David’s memoir. David knows Ted better than anyone else alive and thinks Ted has mental health problems that dominate his thinking. David isn’t some normie yuppie who doens’t understand where Ted is coming from with his ideas, either: David did his own “get away from society and live primitively” thing in west Texas for years, camping out basically in a hole he dug in the sand in the desert.
2) Learning about many of the other people throughout history, from Socrates onward, who have voiced concerns and formulated arguments about how we ought to limit the role of technology in society, and done so in much more cogent ways than Ted Kaczynski did–and without blowing anyone up.
Some years ago I’ve read his manifesto. I think that, like in the case of Marx, his critique of modern society has some valid points, but his proposed “solution” of fighting against civilization is absurd, ridiculous. It can’t succeed. Even supposing that a anti-civilization movement succeeds to paralyze civilization in the West, that would just make the West an easy prey for a lot more tightly-controlled China, where such a movement can’t exist.
A valid point seemed to me the one about the “power process” and the 3 kinds of needs/wishes:
1. those very easily/effortlessly to fulfill
2. those that need some serious effort to fulfill
3. those almost impossible to fulfill
He says that the fulfillment of the 2nd kind generate most life satisfaction (that he calls the “power process”), that before civilization, most needs were of the 2nd kind, but civilization has the tendency to push most human needs towards either 1st or 3rd category, and that generates unhappiness, the sentiment that life doesn’t have a purpose.
When I read it, I knew very little about artificial intelligence dangers and artificial general intelligence seemed very far away. Also back then were less or not yet present, for example, the use of artificial intelligence for face recognition or for detection of homosexuality, the cheap kits for DNA analysis from saliva, the use of satelite images, cams everywhere etc. etc. It seems that in just a few years the world increased substantially its potential for dystopia and China already applies it quite efficiently.
NYT piece on differences between boys and girls in school. As is usually the case for this kind of story, I think the data is about a hundred times more interesting than the journalist’s attempts to hammer it into whatever narrative he prefers.
New study shows that girls outperform boys by about 0.75 grade levels in English, with the extreme districts at over 1.0 grade levels higher but the story is that in some districts boys outperform girls by 0.25 grade levels in math, and in some extreme districts it is almost 0.5 grade levels!
The smallest gap for English is 4.5 months with girls ahead of boys, which would be on the extreme end of boys’ edge in math.
Given that boys and girls mature physically at different rates, there’s really no reason to assume that in k-12 we would expect to see them both perform to the same standards equally mentally, either.
Also, boys and girls are on different bell curves on like a zillion things. So it wouldn’t be surprising if the optimal educational environment for the average boy and girl was different, or the optimal method of teaching some subject was different for the average boy than the average girl, or whatever.
The wrong way to handle that is to suppress any suggestion of differences and demand that outcomes be equal. The right way is to figure out what we need to do to give everyone as close to the optimal educational environment as we can within our resources.
Yeah. The best thing to do is to individualize as much as possible. For instance, maybe some of the third grade class takes math with the second graders, or has a modified curriculum that reviews the basics more, while others jump ahead.
Look to see if groups are being permanently left behind and never reaching standards, definitely, but at any given level I don’t think perfect equality is likely across any demographic.
I seem to recall something Freddie DeBoer posted awhile back said that the only educational intervention that actually seemed to consistently work was tutoring–basically more human attention.
I’ve watched this myself. My oldest son has sometimes gotten stuck in math, despite having (as far as I can see) a really excellent teacher. But I can usually unstick him with like five-ten minutes of explanation. His teacher could do this a lot better than I can (he knows his material a lot better than I remember my precalc class from 30+ years ago!), but he has 30 kids to do it with, whereas I just need to spend my few minutes with one confused kid and explain what he’s mixed up about.
ETA: It seems like this is one place where we’ve gone entirely in the wrong direction. As we increase credential requirements for teachers, we’ve raised the cost of having enough of them around to answer the kids’ questions.
That’s likely true but I’m not sure practically significant. I think the major drivers of increased educational cost don’t lie in teacher salaries, but in number of administrators, para-educators, facilities, etc.
US education spending for K-12 is getting close to 12k per kid per year. Median salary for a teacher is 60k a year. Toss in about 30k in benefits and overhead and you’re up where you should be able to afford a teacher for every 8 kids. In actual fact, there are about ~15 million kids in highschool and ~1 million highschool teachers.
Fair enough. There are going to be *some* administrative and plant expenses, but probably there could be a lot less without losing a lot of educational value.
I’m not even saying (here) that the administration etc. expenses are worthless educationally, just that the credential requirements aren’t the bulk of the cost disease–though they don’t help keep costs down, and I would agree that a whole lot can be done to help someone learn to read a text or plot a graph without 5 years of college.
Based on my experience, that is a way higher student:teacher ratio than I would have predicted. I started a class with 37 students in it, iirc. Didn’t stay that way the whole year, but the average never approached 25:1, let alone 15:1.
Could be special education is skewing the numbers somewhat, as those classes will be near 5-10:1.
Plenty of schools have more administrators than teachers.
Makes you wonder, who is really the overhead? Are the administrators there to help assist the teachers? Or are the teachers only there to justify massive government make-work programs?
Teachers often don’t teach a full day (that is a class every period of the day).
@Randy M says:
the 15:1 ratio is the number of students to the number of teachers in the country, not any given class. Students spend more time in class on a given day than students spend teaching class, so actual classrooms have higher ratios.
Sure, but I don’t think that’s most of it. Full time teachers usually teach 5/6 of a day, which doesn’t shift the ratio that much.
Clearly, there are some parts of the data that can be talked about, and some that can’t. There are some great (meaningless) quotes in here, though:
Some narratives are allowed, some aren’t. Some data should be emphasized, other data should be downplayed. In a story in the country’s top newspaper, read by the ruling class who will shape their picture of the world on its basis.
This isn’t actually as bad as it could be–they don’t seem to be suppressing data, just being careful to try to hammer it into the right narratives.
Oh yeah, I remember my parents driving me to the job site every night after school to see how my bridges and highways were coming along.
Yeah, I’m trying to figure out where people get this idea. I guess by looking at the most successful and dedicated engineers and scientists who are more likely to have done stuff like this? I don’t think that’s a very representative sample of people who get engineering degrees. Most people in engineering or physical sciences had little exposure to it before college if you don’t count high school classes. And girls can take those high school classes too.
Outside of some really fancy schools with robotics clubs, what can you do besides read a book? Basic science is really accessible in the sense that the materials are available, it’s just really boring to most people. The actual process of learning it seriously, not the single sentence results or whatever “I love science” meme is going around.
Probably they get the idea because it’s a story that lets them explain their observations in a socially acceptable way. They’re not subjecting it to any skepticism, or they’d run into the obvious questions like “wait, how many parents actually push their sons but not their daughters into engineering?”
Well, using the word “engineering” isn’t right, but it may be true that boys have more experience in mechanical stuff, whether it’s fixing bikes, helping dad with the car, legos, etc. I don’t know how much more boys do these things than girls these days, or how much they are encouraged to do so, but I think that is the point that is being made.
@Mark V Anderson
It’s still extremely silly to put ballet on par with engineering. I accept that boys are more often pushed to do manly sports. I accept that boys are more pushed into doing work around the house that is technical. I don’t accept that they are pushed to do this instead of ballet.
It’s called Scouting.
If you teach kids to build structures out of fallen wood, and to lash together bamboo rafts, and walk them past hydroelectric installations on mountainsides, then it’s no surprise half of them go into Civil.
This is basically a within-country version of part II. of https://slatestarcodex.com/2017/08/07/contra-grant-on-exaggerated-differences/ , right?
More from NYT about education:
De Blasio’s Plan for NYC Schools Isn’t Anti-Asian. It’s Anti-Racist.
It gives a diverse group of working-class kids a fairer shot, which shouldn’t be controversial.
No Ethnic Group Owns Stuyvesant. All New Yorkers Do.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan would destroy the best high schools in New York City.
If it goes through will property prices in the best areas of marginal middle schools rise?
The first opinion piece is literally utopian nonsense.
This is example number one billion of prominent news stories in top news sources where the decision not to discuss IQ statistics basically makes the conversation dumber.
Ah, but as we’re repeatedly told, openly discussing IQ statistics would be divisive and hurtful, whereas calling the entire school system and society racist as an explanation for the exact pattern of differences on standardized test scores that you see on IQ tests is charitable and kind.
You don’t even need the IQ statistics, though. The unstated premise is that the test is somehow unfair and the middle schools produce equally prepared students. Therefore, you can get just as good a student body by taking the top N% of each middle school class. This is laughably false, and everyone involved including DeBlasio knows it, which is why the premise is unstated.
As others have noted, not all the selective schools require the test by state law. DeBlasio could change the requirements for some of them without asking Albany. He won’t, though, because he knows the results would be to essentially destroy the schools (as the one editorial claims), so he wants to do it all at once to make it extremely hard to reverse.
It doesn’t really matter if the cause of this is terrible teachers in some middle schools or genetic IQ; the effect remains the same.
Penguin Random House is no longer requiring college degrees. It’s also going heavy on inclusion.
Unrelated: I know people who were sad that the company went with a dignified name rather than Random Penguin.
This reads to me as: to get more non-whites, we have to lower standards.
Au contraire, says CEO Tom Weldon:
I think he tips his hand here. It’s actually not about connection, or finding overlooked talented writers, but about serving different echo chambers, by cultivating a roster of writers to appeal to each gender/race/sexual orientation/etc demographic. To borrow a TLP-ism, if you’re reading it, it’s for you.
One nice thing about capitalism is that it’s often self-testing. If he can sell more books, then he was correct that there was an unmet need and he found a way to meet it.
Do you normally support credentialism? Or only when it lets you take a shot at people you disagree with?
I sometimes support credentialism and I sometimes do not, depending on the circumstances, but I don’t see how this matters here.
My comment was triggered by my experience being that ‘diversity’ tends to have a specific meaning nowadays. However, after looking at their inclusion page very closely, they seem to have a somewhat heterodox definition of the term, where they include social mobility as part of diversity (together with the more Social Justicy kind of diversity). I think that this is very positive, if they actually are willing to follow through on this, by giving chances to everyone from a socio-economically marginalised background, including white men and people from the deteriorating parts of Britain.
I am a little skeptical whether they will actually do so, given the many red flags on that page and the fairly obvious issue that their goal of reflecting UK society means giving about half the stage to Brexiteers and/or people who may not share Random House’s politics.
Also, how do you test for “social mobility”
I’ve filled out a lot of job applications in my life. They’ve all asked race, gender, veteran status, and disabilities. I’ve never once had anyone ask me how much money my parents made.
There are plenty of signals of class background on a resume starting with the first name. Even more at an interview.
At least for entry level positions. By the time you’re ten years into a career it can get harder to tell.
Okay, but how do you track that? How do you know you’re doing well? After you hire the person do you ask them to confirm they were lower class?
I mean yeah, there are a lot of ways to guess, but guessing isn’t the same thing…
Yeah that’s true. If you want to do affirmative action you are going to need a sounder basis. I suppose they could just ask the same way they do for the others. One thing I’ve seen reported, which is a decent proxy, is “first in family to attend college”.
Yeah, I thought of that earlier, I’ve heard of it being used – although it occurs to me that I don’t think anyone has ever actually asked me about that. I’ve never seen it on a school or job application.
Simply by offering quality jobs with lower educational requirements (and more focus on what the job actually requires) and/or company job education, they increase social mobility.
In general, I’m much more a fan of giving more opportunity to people to achieve the level they are capable of, rather than putting less capable people in jobs.
One of the writers has commented on the survey that Random House sent to their writers, to establish their level of diversity.
My skepticism whether they would actually take social mobility and diversity of beliefs/regions/etc into account seems to have been warranted, as the survey is one-sided in the way that one would expect from Social Justice advocates.
I posted it because is was a combination of less reliance on credentials (generally considered good at ssc) and heavy reliance on demographic group (generally considered bad at ssc).
Maybe it’s just that the market for books written by middle class, Radio 4 listening white people who went to Russel Group universities where they pretended to be Londoners despite actually growing up in Surrey etc. etc. is becoming saturated.
That more diverse writers write more diverse books which sell well to a wider audience (as well as the Waitrose Woke part of the core bibliophile demographic).
Can you translate that into American?
Maybe it’s just that the market for books written by middle class, NPR listening white people who went to Ivy-tier universities where they pretended to be New Yorkers despite actually growing up in New Jersey etc. etc. is becoming saturated.
No clue on “Waitrose Woke” though.
Well, if the data point is something like “poor minorities aren’t buying many books,” the issue might be that there aren’t enough minority authors.
I won’t bother mentioning some of the equally plausible alternatives…
“Whole Foods woke”, I believe.
Questions: What would North Korea have to look like in 40 years (assuming under KJU’s rule) for history to view KJU as a great leader? What would NK have to look like for you personally to view him as a great leader?
If he does China style reforms, he will go down in history as a Deng Xiaoping figure. From a consequentialist perspective, that would make his rule a net good.
I’m not sure exactly what things would have to look like in detail, but a good start would be no more death camps (warning: extremely disturbing obviously).
As prosperous as China forty-six years after Mao would do it on both counts.
Epistemic status – unpublished scientific speculation from a former geophysicist colleague.
The person I refer to above wrote a paper titled “Design Principles Associated With the Circle and Sexagesimal Mathematics”. I have provided the study’s conclusions below for interest/discussion. I have provided links to wikipedia where I think they would grant ease-of-reading, but these articles were not necessarily referenced in the original paper.
The study concludes:
1. Circle properties and the sexagesimals number system can only be deciphered if the ancient Royal Cubit standard unit of length is taken into consideration. The ancient length standard is perceived to have been created within the circle reference frame. The circle and the Royal Cubit combined present an integrated metrological structure which defines the link between a time standard and a length standard.
2. The design principles to circle theory can also only be deciphered if modern electromagnetic field knowledge is recognised in the ancient system, and the speed of light is expressed in Royal Cubits per second.
3. The sub-units of the RC comprise 20.63 inches, 1.745 feet and 28 fingers. Sexagesimal subdivision of the circle if based on electromagnetic principles, and the ancient RC, feet, inch and finger uinits were created in ratios that preserve knowledge of the electromagnetic equation, and the value of the speed of light.
4. The 3D spherical wave propagation of an electromagnetic pulse from a point source maintained for one second will reach a radial extent of 5.73 x 10^8 RCs, and achieve a circumference of 360 x 10^7 RCs. This circumference can then be subdivided by the numbers 6 and 10 to create the sexagesimals system, and is proposed as the origin of the 360 degree circle.
5. The 1 radian angle is equivalent to 57.3 degrees, and is directly connected to the speed of light value of 5.73 x 10 ^8 RC/s. Angular measurement is connected to time measurement in terms of the speed of light.
6. The length of 1 RC is proposed to be defined in terms of the speed of light, in the same way that the modern metre is defined, as the reciprocal of the speed of light value of 5.73 x 10^8 RC/s, or 1.745 x 10^-9 s. The number 1.745 is preserved in the RC standard length as the number of feet per 1 RC, as a means of indicating the time associated with creating the 1 RC unit with an electromagnetic clock.
7. The circle was then subdivided according to the electromagnetic equation c=f x lambda to produce some of the ancient standard length units, specifically the RC, feet and inches.
8. Recognition of the frequency and wavelength associated with an electromagnetic clock is preserved within the ratios between 1 RC and the inch and finger units, expressed simply in angular subdivision of the 1 radian angle, as 57.3 deg = 20.63 x 2.778 deg
9. Circle theory and the sexagesimals number system as we know it is proposed to be based on the Cosmic Microwave Background with a peak frequency currently measured as approximately 2.8 x 10^11 Hz, based on the CMB temperature of 2.73 K and applying Wien’s law. The CMB therefore has a peak wavelength of approx.. 1.06 mm (2.063 x 10^-3 RC). These values of frequency and wavelength are perfectly accommodated within the circle framework, sexagesimals mathematics and the RC standard unit with its subunits.
10. One second was therefore defined as the time to measure 2.8 × 10^11 wavelengths of the CMB radiation. If this can be measured by modern science, then there should be no doubt that a similar measurement was accomplished at some early stage in human history, resulting in the creation of circle mathematics and the sexagesimal system.
11. The CMB constitutes the dominant physical electromagnetic field within which all objects in the Universe exist, and within which they were created since the Big Bang. The wavelength of this signal is therefore a likely candidate for consideration as a “Universe commensurate” standard measurement unit, and is proposed to have formed the basis of circle theory.
12. Basic mathematical functions in circle theory rely on the time it takes for a speed of light signal to travel the circle radial distance, or the 1 deg arc length. The commonly used equation to calculate the arc length subtended by a specific angle (i.e. arc length = 0.01745 × angle × circle radius) is based on the time in seconds that a light signal will take to travel the same distance. In this regard, the standard circle radius is inferred to be 5.73 × 10^8 Royal Cubits, created in a time of 1 second, and which will have a 1° arc length of 1 × 10^7 Royal Cubits. A light signal takes 0.01745 seconds to travel this distance. The only conclusion that can be drawn from this information is that the reference circle, which has been in use since Greek scholars (e.g. Hipparchus, around 180 BC) began using and transmitting mathematical methods of Sumerian origin, was based on a 1 second electromagnetic signal.
13. The primary basis for the subdivision of the circle into 21,600 minutes of angle is traced to knowledge of the approximate time in which an excited atom releases a photon of excess energy. In the time of approximately 6 x 10^-8 s an electromagnetic signal will travel the distance of 34.38 Royal Cubits. The circumference of the electromagnetic wave after this time interval will be 216 Royal Cubits. For reasons of practicality, the measurement time allocated to allow for definition of the circle and its specific sexagesimal number system, was then increased 100 times, to 6 x 10^-6 s.
14. Pi is a time unit.
I’m not commenting on whether any values used here are correct or whether any of the characterizations of the units involved holds true.
But there seems to confusion here on the difference between knowing that something holds true and knowing why it holds true.
I Googled the name of the paper but got no results. I did find this this paper, which seems similar in language and style to the summary here.
What kind of comments do you want? This looks like trivial calculations followed by non-sequiturs about the history measurement and the significance of certain numbers.
It’s not even clear what the point is? Is the paper arguing that these numerical coincidences prove that the Egyptians knew the speed of light and chose the length of their cubit to be 1/(6*60*10*10*10*10*10*10*10) of the distance traveled by light in 1/(24*60*60) of a day?
Or is the paper arguing that “pi is a time unit?” Does the paper think these two conclusions hang together or not?
Either way, both of the conclusions above are absurd in ways I could go into, if asked.
This is a Time Cube joke, right?
Pi cannot be a time unit because pi describes a property of circles and everyone knows Time is a Cube.
ETA: Bah, ninj’r’d by Nornagest.
There was a thread a while back about The Expanse, so I figure this might be of interest to those who have read the books. In general, I think they’re great, but there’s something that has bothered me about books 5 and 6 that I think people here would have opinions about.
MAJOR SPOILERS FOR BOOKS 5 and 6 of The Expanse series:
Fb va gur svsgu obbx bs gur frevrf, n ebthr tebhc bs Orygref rkrphgr na nggnpx ba Rnegu gung xvyyf na rfgvzngrq 10 ovyyvba crbcyr. Abg rkcyvpvgyl fgngrq ubj znal Orygref rkvfg birenyy, ohg rfgvzngrf V’ir ernq bayvar ner nobhg 100 zvyyvba crbcyr gbgny.
Zl vffhr vf gung ng ab cbvag va gur fgbel qbrf nalbar ba Rnegu oevat hc gur qbpgevar bs Zhghny Nffherq Qrfgehpgvba. Abj boivbhfyl, vg unf arire orra grfgrq vs crbcyr jbhyq npghnyyl ergnyvngr va xvaq vs nggnpxrq ol ahpyrne jrncbaf, naq gurer ner ernfbanoyr rguvpny nethzragf ntnvafg gur Rnegu jvcvat bhg nyy bs gur fgngvbaf va gur oryg. V guvax Rnegu’f erfcbafr va gur fgbel vf zber rguvpny guna jvcvat bhg nyy bs gur Orygref, ohg vg frrzf jrveq gung vg arire pbzrf hc.
Rnegu nyzbfg pregnvayl unf gur pncnpvgl gb rkrphgr fhpu na nggnpx; gur ebthr orygre snpgvba pbagebyf yrff guna unys bs gur Znevna Anil, juvpu unf nyjnlf orra qrfpevorq nf nccebkvzngryl rdhny gb gur Rnegu Anil. Gur Rnegu Anil erznvaf vagnpg nsgre gur nggnpxf. Va rneyvre obbxf, pregnva Rnegu trarenyf npghnyyl nggrzcg gb jvcr bhg Znef jvgu fvtavsvpnagyl yrff cebibpngvba. Sebz n fgbelgryyvat crefcrpgvir vg frrzf bqq gung guvf vf abg n fgengrtl gung jnf rire rira pbafvqrerq.
Gur zber vagrerfgvat dhrfgvba vf gur rguvpny bar. Ahpyrne svefg fgevxr vf boivbhfyl cerggl qvssvphyg gb qrsraq, ohg vf ahpyrne ergnyvngvba rguvpny? Fubhyq Rnegu unir jvcrq bhg gur oryg va erfcbafr gb guvf nggnpx nf n qrgreerag ntnvafg shgher nggnpxf? (Na npgvba gung jbhyq xvyy gjb beqref bs zntavghqr srjre crbcyr guna gur vavgvny nggnpx.) Jbhyq or vagrerfgrq gb urne crbcyr’f gubhtugf.
I was not really impressed by the quality of the later books. I gave up on it after book 5.
Gur vffhr jvgu ergnyvngvba vf gung gur ebthr orygref ner qvssrerag sebz gur oryg vgfrys. Ol tbvat nsgre gur oryg, lbh cbgragvnyyl ybfr vzcbegnag erfbheprf sbe gur erohvyqvat bs rnegu naq/be na rfpncr sbe rneguref.
V guvax gung ergnyvngvba bayl znxrf frafr vs bar oryvrirf gung gur ebthr ryrzragf ner fhccbegrq gb zhpu ol gur oryg naq/be gung gur oryg ershfrf gb tb nsgre gurz, gung gurl ner rssrpgviryl npgvat va havfba.
While I haven’t given up on the series, I can see what you mean about the later books. I haven’t read book 7 yet, but I think the big problem is they took a major detour from the main plot in 5 and 6 that maybe could have been wrapped up in one book (or spread out across others with the main plot continuing). And 4 is left as this weird outlier. You have a big “White Walker” type thing hanging over the whole series and they seem reluctant to drop the other shoe (and thus end the series probably).
The other major issue is the Harry Potter problem where the coincidences and convenient backstories of James Holden and co. required to keep them central to every plot are increasingly strained. It’s like they want to have the scope and complexity of ASOIF while making the whole thing just about the Starks.
One of the problems I have with it is that they are very stingy with the information about the sci-fi elements, making most of the later books pretty traditional, yet not very good adventure novels.
If I read sci-fi, I want sci-fi.
Keep in mind that basically only the Belters consider “the Belt” to be a legitimate polity. To Earth and Mars, the Belt is just a collection of many individual business operations owned and operated by Earth and Martian corporations.
Fb qrfgeblvat gur Oryg jbhyq whfg or chapuvat lbhefrys va gur snpr naq qrfgeblvat lbhe bja erfbheprf. Rnegu naq Znef jnag gb oryvrir gurl ner snpvat ebthr greebevfgf, gurl qba’g jnag gb yrtvgvzvmr gur Oryg nf zhghnyyl erfcbafvoyr sbe gur npgvba bs Znepb naq gur Serr Anil.
Sebz n cenpgvpny crefcrpgvir vg cebonoyl jbhyqa’g jbex naljnl. Gur zrgrbe fgevxr ba Rnegu bayl jbexf orpnhfr Rnegu vf n ovt sng havgnel gnetrg, gur Rnegu Anil vf qvfgenpgrq, naq gur ebpxf ner pbngrq va habognvavhz fgrnygu cnvag. Gur Oryg vf fpnggrerq, naq bar bs gur ehaavat gurzrf bs fcnpr pbzong va gur obbx vf gung cerggl zhpu gur bayl jnl gb thnenagrr qrfgehpgvba bs fbzrguvat vf gb pbapragengr n uhtr nzbhag bs sbepr ng pybfr enatr – ybat enatr be vfbyngrq nggnpxf ner rnfvyl qrsraqrq. Obbx 6 pbiref guvf cerggl jryy – jurarire gur pbzovarq syrrg tnguref gb fgevxr fbzrjurer, Znepb fvzcyl fpnggref naq rfpncrf. Ur unf cyragl bs bgure greevgbel gb ergerng gb.
Some interesting things have been happening in the gendersphere. WaPo published a defense of man-hating, written by Suzanna Walters, a professor of sociology & director of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Northeastern University and editor-in-chief of the 8th most-cited Women’s Studies journal. It seems like a major escalation when one of the leading daily American newspapers publishes this.
What is notable to me is the level of outrage that this generated in the (mainstream) media, faculties and such; or rather, the lack of it. When Lawrence Summers argued for innate gender differences, he was opposed strongly and pushed out of his job. The same for Damore. In both cases, it was argued that they hated women, but this was a subjective claim based on a world view not shared by those people. Summers nor Damore believe that they hate women. In contrast, Walters argued explicitly for the hatred of men and for them to be denied equal opportunity, yet she did not nearly got the push back that they got.
Now, I’m not arguing that this proves that the (mainstream) media, faculties and such are extremely misandrist. I suspect that many object to her beliefs, but believe that men don’t need to be defended from misandry like this, because there is no threat by people with these beliefs to men. Furthermore, I suspect that fear also keeps many from speaking out.
However, this double standard in how people respond, fundamentally taints so much what modern progressives fight for, in my eyes. In practice, it creates different rights for individuals who are in equal circumstances, based on their gender. Women get to invoke codes of conduct when they are offended by something, men do not. Female students who believe that they have been sexually abused by men can find remedy with Title IX tribunals, while male students cannot. Women get to argue that being denied access to female-only spaces denies them opportunities, while men do not. Etc, etc.
A second interesting story is that a female professor of (Critical Theory) philosophy has been accused of sexual assault. A bunch of scholars, including Judith Butler wrote a letter denouncing the Title IX investigation against the professor. The letter seems to call for special treatment: “We testify to the grace, the keen wit, and the intellectual commitment of Professor Ronell and ask that she be accorded the dignity rightly deserved by someone of her international standing and reputation.” Apparently, people without grace, keen wit and/or intellectual commitment, do not deserve to be accorded the same dignity.
The letter argues that while “we have no access to the confidential dossier,” “some of us know the individual who has waged this malicious campaign against her” and that “we hold that the allegations against her do not constitute actual evidence, but rather support the view that malicious intention has animated and sustained this legal nightmare” and “seek to register in clear terms our objection to any judgment against her.”
IMO, as many of the signatories are critical theorists, they should know that their belief that the professor is facing a malicious campaign, is shaped by their biases. It’s also likely that the accuser is not a professor and thus the accused professor (and the professors defending her) hold positions of power compared to the accuser. Finally, they ought to be aware that professors have the ability to demand special treatment to an extent that is not afforded to many others, so perhaps they ought to demand fair treatment for all and especially the disenfranchised, rather than specifically for their privileged colleague.
Finally, there was an interesting Quora answer to why anti-feminists tend to be very upset with feminists and why feminists tend to not get why. The argument boils down to the existence of essentially two groups of feminists. One group wants feminism to be merely about advocating for women and gets angry at people who bring up men’s issues in feminist spaces. Then if men’s issues advocates leave to do their own thing, the other group, who wants feminism to deal with men’s issues, gets upset at the men’s issues advocates for doing things outside of feminism. So the argument goes that no matter what men’s issues advocates do, they have some angry feminists going after them. This then causes them to see feminism as a whole as disingenuous, as all the advice to men’s issues advocates by feminists results in attacks by (other) feminists, when followed. Since this story has it’s flaws, the writer also introduces feminists who are duplicitous.
I think that there is some truth to it. However, what I think the writer is missing is that many if not most of the feminists who do want to tackle men’s rights, want to do so based on a narrative that explains men’s issues as being caused by men. This is a narrative that many men’s issues advocates reject, as it ignores that women also behave in ways that perpetrate and enforce gender norms & it ignores the privileges that women have.
The Washington Post op ed was, to my mind, pretty embarrassingly bad. I’m wary of weakmanning here by choosing an especially indefensible op-ed written as clickbait, but at least by her credentials and position in the world, she looks like someone with a serious position in the intellectual movement.
It would be weakmanning to argue that her beliefs are representative of feminists/progressives, but I’m not making that argument. I blame them for not speaking out against this at even a tenth of the level that they do for far, far less hateful speech.
Either you defend principles, in which case you ought to defend the outgroup against ingroup members that violate the principles; or you go tribal. If you go tribal, the other side has no reason to take your principles seriously, because they are fake principles that get called on to help friends and forgotten when doing so allows one to hurt the other.
I doubt that she is a significant figure in the movement, if she got her PhD in 1990 then she is in her early to mid 50s and her only publicly recognizable is this op-ed. What is concerning to me is that the Wa-Po let it slide through based on the veneer of respectability (editor, professor at a top 40 school).
Suzanna Danuta Walters, a professor of sociology and director of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Northeastern University, is the editor of the gender studies journal Signs.
This description sounds like someone whom you’d expect to be a serious thinker in the broad area of Womens’ Studies, since she’s a professor at a reasonably decent university in that field. So treating her views as at least more-or-less a representation of her field’s views isn’t crazy–it’s not like finding some Buzzfeed piece entitled “Hey, White People” to get a careful and nuanced view of racial dynamics as seen by intellectuals within the social-justice community.
The reason not to treat her views as being representative of her field is that in the op-ed she explicitly lays out her own views in contrast to those that prevail in her field. She could be wrong or lying, but at face value her credentials do not warrant generalizing her view in a way she herself denies they generalize.
Right, which is why its distressing that it got published because reading it makes it seem like it only got published because of her credentials, and those credentials are not strong enough to justify publishing what amounts to a rant with no real data in it.
There are (ball parking it) probably 20-200 academics, 20-200 politicians, and 20-200 businesswomen who have a stronger credential claim (and other areas as well) to speaking for feminism. If you are going to allow your major newspaper to launch an otherwise publicly unknown person into the national conversation then it ought to be backed by a solid reason.
So, maybe I’m misreading her, but it looks to me like the common view of her field/community she’s dissenting from is the idea that it’s right to hate all men.
The part that seems like she’s importing it as a baseline assumption from her community is the collective guilt/collective responsibility of men part. That is, the idea that it’s reasonable to hold men as a whole responsible for the actions of other men, even ones they’ve never met and have no connection to. And similarly, that men can thus be morally obliged to alter our behavior to make up for the crimes and misbehavior of other men.
This strikes me as a fundamentally wrongheaded way to think about morality, one that seems guaranteed to lead to awful places. It’s basically the moral code needed to justify crimes against humanity.
The author of the op-ed piece probably will never have any great power, but the ideas she’s teaching and spreading seem to me to be likely to make the world a much worse place. And to the extent that this moral principle is a part of a lot of SJW- or feminist ideas, it’s very definitely worth engaging with and discussing.
In a way, more extreme SJ advocates merely take the objectionable views that are very common among more liberal SJ people to their logical extremes.
Of course, something similar gets said by some of them about many of us.
That’s an understandable perspective but largely beside the point. Pretty much everyone knows that feminist theory includes certain ideas about collective responsibility, and that isn’t what people in this thread are pointing out about the article. (Surely you’re not saying that you learned about those ideas from this editorial.) They’re pointing at its argument that it may be/is OK to hate men, and how that in particular is an irresponsible thing to publish.
[Anyway, I think you’re simplifying the arguments. Many feminists may have a de facto belief in arbitrary collective responsibility, but de jure they tend to object to particular men’s unwillingness to abandon one or another privileges, and see the perpetuation of those privileges as part of how patriarchy is perpetuated. That may be incorrect but it’s not “guaranteed to lead to awful places” nor does it “justify crimes against humanity.”]
@Aapje: part of what bothers me with SJ stuff is that the link between ‘moderates’ and ‘extremists’ seems closer for two reasons
1. There seems to be less willingness to say ‘those people doing that horrible thing are obviously wrong and bad people’
2. Often the horrible things seem to follow very directly from core principles that get used in less horrendous circumstances by relative mdoerates: e.g. ‘always believe the claim of being treated badly from a minority/woman against a majority/man’ and ‘straight white men can’t be oppressed so bad stuff happening to them doesn’t really have much of an impact’
If someone says an opponent of immigration or someone arguing genetic differences exists at average level between races is ‘providing cover for’ or ‘legitimising’ people with outright racist views, it’s just because those views are ‘close to’ the racists’ and because most racists also hold those views and weighed against it is that they usually will explicitly condemn KKK etc. and that there’s no real logical link from their arguments to the extremists’.
I’m just not sure it’s the same on the SJ side. It doesn’t help that there’s a whole set of encoded responses and principles that are deeply anti-epistemic: ‘stop tone policing’, ‘it’s not my job to educate you’, ‘your privilege means you can’t understand my experience’, etc.
The relevant piece of information, as far as this article goes, isn’t whether or not the author is authoritative.
It is the fact that this got published where it did.
Either we reasonably conclude that the Washington Post is as insane as, say, Stormfront.
Or we reasonably conclude that this isn’t an outlandish enough thing to publish that nobody thought the newspaper would suffer for it the way it would for publishing a similar attack piece on another group.
In the former case, it should alarm the shit out of us that the Washington Post is so popular. In the latter case – well, that is pretty much what all of us critics of feminism have been saying for years.
Pretty much everyone knows that feminist theory includes certain ideas about collective responsibility, and that isn’t what people in this thread are pointing out about the article. (Surely you’re not saying that you learned about those ideas from this editorial.)
I’ve certainly seen plenty of collective guilt ideas bounced around, but it’s not clear to me that it’s a built-in part of the social justice / feminist worldview. To the extent it’s a mainstream part of feminist thinking, though, it’s probably worth engaging with. (To the extent it’s just one whackjob who got to write an op-ed, not so much.)
Anyway, I think you’re simplifying the arguments. Many feminists may have a de facto belief in arbitrary collective responsibility, but de jure they tend to object to particular men’s unwillingness to abandon one or another privileges, and see the perpetuation of those privileges as part of how patriarchy is perpetuated.
I guess those privileges would be stuff like speaking in public, participating in politics, etc., as with the demands on males made by the op-ed? In the op-ed, those demands seem bound up in the notion that men are responsible of other mens’ actions, and for womens’ lack of previous representation in politics, business, etc.
This doesn’t seem like it makes her position any less terrible.
Another possibility is that the Washington Post published this op-ed as a kind of clickbait, knowing that the outrage it caused would lead to clicks and page views. For that purpose, a more moderately stated discussion of feminist principles would have been far less suitable.
Why won’t they then also publish misogynist click-bait?
I think that the answer is that misandry is generally seen as wrong, but not as bad, while misogyny is seen as wrong and bad.
This just validates Thegnskald, me and the other critics of feminism; in that the vast majority of feminists refuse to confront the part of the traditional gender roles that dictates that men cannot be harmed by women, unless they deserve it. On the contrary, I would argue that feminism has a severe misandry problem.
You’re again conflating the question of what she in particular is arguing for and what a significant number of feminists may be arguing for. (And to be explicit I’m not defending the essay. One would think standpoint theory should prompt a lesbian to ask a couple straight women or gay men about the redeeming qualities of men in general.)
But to take bait: Sure. Imagine a world in which every woman who goes to the town square to speak is immediately boo-ed by half the men so that no one can hear her. When men speak, no one boos and they are heard. Some men who don’t boo but who speak say “I’m just going to speak — this booing has nothing to do with me.” Some women say “this situation sucks; it’s not acceptable. Please help us change it or at least stop pretending that it has nothing to do with your life.”
This is the sort of situation that many feminist theorists take themselves to be arguing about. Again, there are many ways to criticize such a position. But it’s not hard to imagine scenarios in which the “leave me alone, my hands are clean” claim would be questionable at best.
It sounds like the problem there is everyone booing the women or shouting them down. As a member of the community, I’d feel very much inclined to oppose that. But I wouldn’t feel like I was thereby required to refrain from speaking myself.
There’s a useful insight that says “men often talk over women in meetings.” Knowing that is really useful–it helps me make sure I get to hear what my (very smart) female coworkers are thinking, by paying attention and making sure they get a chance to talk.
But this has zero to do with any kind of collective guilt or shared moral responsibility among men.
I don’t think this is a good piece, and I think it was a mistake to publish it. It’s not a statement of position; it’s a raw expression of frustration. There are times and places to let loose, but the Washington Post editorial page is not a good one. That said, there is a reasonable claim hidden under the anger.
Your phrasing here implies that you should care about men talking over women in meetings because it’s instrumentally useful: you get to hear smart comments. While true, this is insufficient. If you notice that your female coworkers are being talked over and ignored, then you have a moral responsibility to do something about it, even if you aren’t somehow rewarded. For example, there’s clearly something morally dubious about deliberately taking advantage of this phenomenon by repeating your coworkers’ ideas as your own.
It’s not your fault that women are ignored in meetings. But you still have a moral responsibility to help fix it. To the extent that being a man gives you more power to help, it also gives you more responsibility (Parker et al, 2002). There is room for legitimate disagreement about the scope of this responsibility, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that in some circumstances, the moral act involves some form of self-sacrifice: say, by making sure that your coworker is credited for her ideas, even if it means she might be promoted over you. In the town square metaphor, that might making a big show of ceding your speaking time to a woman, or refusing to speak on other issues until the booing problem has been addressed.
This isn’t a new message. “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the
precipitateproblem” is a cliche for a reason. (See also: the bits in MLK’s Letter from Birmingham Jail about the “white moderate”.)
Talking about this in terms of “hating men” was a dumb, counterproductive idea, and I wish Walters hadn’t done so.
The way you phrase this seems completely reasonable to me. It’s basically saying “act to make the world a better place,” with the realization that the more power or authority you have, the more impact you can have in doing that.
This is pretty-much the opposite of what I got out of that op-ed, though.
@Iain and albatross11: Agreed, except I want to note that studies conflict over the degree of interruption.
I stopped interrupting people almost entirely several years back (I’ll stop speaking mid-word if I notice cross talk, in case it turns out that I started speaking simultaneously with someone else) and my anecdotal observations are:
(1) I notice myself being interrupted more than anyone else. (This is probably a combination of observer bias and that many people just keep going when there’s cross talk).
(2) I am interrupted at least as often by women as by men
(3) When you don’t interrupt, the most annoying people in the world are people who filibuster (talk non stop, preventing you from signalling you understand the point beyond nods and mm-hmms, which seem only to encourage) and people who pause at moments that could reasonably be understood to be the end of a communication, then restart and get irritated if you picked that moment to talk.
My guess based on my own observation is that tendency to interrupt/talk over someone else is one of the many overlapping bell curve things–women are less likely to do it than men on average, but there are men who routinely get talked over and women who routinely talk over people.
One conflict theory way of looking at the interrupting thing is that if you pathologize it if men do it, but it’s OK if women do it, that means women can dominate a conversation any time they want and men can’t do anything about that.
Another conflict theory way of looking at it is that interruption (rather than turn-taking) is the usual style of nerds involved in a discussion, and so pathologizing it means you can beat up on nerds for being nerds.
Social interactions are *full* of dominance behaviors. Our brains are probably evolved to work out dominance hierarchies and shifting sets of alliances at least as much as they are to understand reality.
So probably there are a zillion of these. Some of them are culture clash things. Some may even be biological differences. Plenty are just primate dominance games and women want to win more of them.
But I’d also like to hear what my friends and coworkers have to say, since along with deciding which of us is the most important monkey, we also might want to get some work done, or have a conversation that makes us all smarter or helps us get to know one another.
Again, goes back to reciprocity. Are these co-workers going to allow me to have my say, or are they going to interrupt me and then accuse me of “manterrupting” if I attempt to return the favor? Surrendering in the dominance game doesn’t mean everyone gets a say; it means those who surrendered do not. That’s part of the stakes of said game.
Furthermore, I have seen similar complaints on mailing lists, about men posting too much. Obviously on a mailing list there’s no interruption and no limited amount of “air in the room” as it’s often put. Once I issued a written (well, emailed on the list) invitation to the person complaining to post more; this did not go over too well as you might expect. So I do not think this is about anything more than dominance games.
What is the reasonable claim?
I’m sure this is both a genuine complaint by some people, and a handy thing to be weaponized in winning local dominance games. But my experience suggests that there really is a pattern of smart women in my own technical field not being heard in meetings, because they get talked over, or because they’re not very aggressive in jumping into a conversation, or just because they’re not very comfortable putting themselves forward. That’s not all women–some women are the ones doing the talking-over-everyone-else. And not all men–some men get talked over and hold back in loud conversations. But it looks to me like this is an overlapping-bell-curves thing, where women tend to be a little less inclined to jump forward and say what’s on their minds overall than men, and that sums up to a pattern that’s worth noticing and responding to.
And again, this isn’t “men are evil, we need to shut up,” it’s “make sure the quiet people (often but not always women) get heard.”
That would be the moral act even if your coworker was male, so I don’t see its connection with this set of issues.
I interpret that phrase as an attempt to draft me for someone else’s crusade.
Most people intuit a difference in kind between hurting people and failing to help people. If one doesn’t, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that one is a mass murderer.
She may not be a “significant” member of the feminist movement, but she’s certainly an established and professional member of it. So while her views may not be truly representative of the movement, the fact that she felt comfortable putting her name next to these ideas in a major national paper certainly says something about the movement’s Overton window.
Whenever reading or listening to a media-appointed spokesperson for some movement, it’s worth asking whether you’re listening to a Sharpton or a Coates. You may disagree with either one, but only one of them is likely to be rewarding to engage with.
I am at a loss as to how the Wa-Po thing even got published. It not sparking outrage doesn’t bother me much, if at all, but it getting through the decision making process for the paper with its combination of message and incoherence is stunning.
I think the headline was editorialized — seriously, scan the WaPo opinion page headlines and you’ll see what I mean — and possibly was not the author’s choice. I also think the piece was cynically chosen as clickbait, with the author’s credentials as cover if they came under scrutiny.
Even so, from where I sit, firmly in young Blue Tribe land, what was in the op-ed was not outside the Overton Window. Maybe at the edge, but not outside. I have heard women say things in SJ arguments — in all seriousness — like, “Fuck white men!” and other such things that would be unacceptable if targeted toward any other group. One woman* who has said “Fuck white men” went on a diatribe about how all the school mass shooters are always white boys, to which… I held my tongue. It is easy to come up with a rebuttal about black or Latino boys in gangs, but would obviously be countered by allegations of structural oppression. In a different conversation with the same woman, we were discussing one of my family members’ anxiety problems, which I understand are quite severe, and she was very dismissive, giving the clichéd “oh, boo hoo, he’s an Ivy League educated white guy, his problems can’t be too bad” response, and I fought back saying that we have no idea how much he suffers because of his condition, and it really could be a terrible experience to be him, but to no effect. The kicker is: this SAME woman has anxiety issues!
I feel like this specific example is a redux of the “I can tolerate anything except the outgroup” argument. And I’m convinced that these beliefs are just virtue signaling. Why? This woman only dates white men. And she is very white herself.
So, going back to the WaPo OpEd, what if this woman is just being a SJW edgelord? You don’t get to the top by having a nuanced conversation about gender. You get to the top by hewing to the dogma as hard as you can.
* = who is still a friend of mine, because we can mostly stay away from these topics, and I think she has just been badly influenced by tumblristas
It’s not uncommon to have headlines be far more extreme than the article, but in this case it seems to match the article very well.
Secondly, one can find people who proudly say very racist or misogynist things to others. Yet these people don’t get legitimized by major mainstream newspapers who let them spout off their hatred. WaPo chose to signal boost the hatred against some groups, but not against others.
Finally, morality is about what is right, not what is acceptable in a culture. In Nazi Germany, loads of people would openly say nasty things about Jews. Many newspapers published nasty things about Jews too. When discussing that, I can agree with arguments that they were so submerged in the culture of the time that they didn’t see the immorality of their actions, that they felt forced to publish these things, etc. However, what I do not accept, is a claim that this behavior was moral, even if many people at the time considered it to be. Similarly, I think that WaPo is being immoral.
I don’t disagree with you that WaPo is being immoral here. My comment above was intended to answer why it got published, not as a reflection of the morality of the piece.
My point was that, given that WaPo’s opinion page has painted itself Blue, is it really a surprise that they’d publish something that I’d consider to be in the Blue Tribe’s Overton Window?
As to why there wasn’t an outcry against this piece, isn’t it obvious? The mob tactics and public shaming have proven effective. People don’t feel like sticking their necks out to criticize their ingroup. Which, again, is immoral.
The WaPo has an odd flexibility about stories lately – witness I am tired of being a Jewish man’s rebellion.
Possible causes, IMHO: (1) fewer editors; (2) younger editors; (3) fighting with Salon and HuffPo for clicks.
My money is heavily on #3.
Yes, or their race (or Muslim-ness, which leftists get a hard on from treating as a race).
The double standard fundamentally taints what modern progressives fight for so deeply that it becomes unconscionable to support the movement in any way. If one is socially in the Blue tribe, resistance becomes a moral obligation.
Is this restricted to the blue tribe though? How many red tribers could you find that object to gun control because of the 2nd amendment but strongly support banning flag burning and claiming it doesn’t/shouldn’t fall under 1st amendment? Or have a somewhat to outright hypocritical opinion across banning abortion and drug use as not an invasion of individual rights while arguing the the government ought not to trample on their other rights?
Yes both sides are hypocritical. Couple points of fact. I think there is a distinction between 1st amendment rights and 2nd amendment rights so I don’t think that one quite counts as hypocrisy. Banning abortion is mostly a disagreement about the personhood/rights of a fetus and the right sees abortion as a major violation of the rights of the baby and banning abortion as forcing the mother to deal with the consequences of her actions. The drug one I do count as hypocrisy. “I want the government less involved” and “I want the government to ban all drugs” are contradictory.
Is “I want the government less involved” and “I want the government to ban murder” also contradictory?
I think that the reason for the conservative position is that they see drug use as much more destructive than progressives, while also believing that prohibition works.
Progressives are going to have the same approach, its going to be “these distinctions are the important distinctions, which allows me to hold apparently contradictory opinions on two similar, but not identical, issues”.
Yes, that’s what I said in the comment below. I just consider it more objectionable to deny a right to the outgroup than to have an inconsistent set of rights*, because in the latter case, the ingroup generally tends to feel the effects as well.
* Although in practice, they can of course overlap, like the crack vs cocaine example.
Well, there’s an obvious line between banning things to protect people from one another and banning things to protect people from themselves.
In principle, you could get around that by claiming that you’re banning drugs because drug use makes people more likely to commit crimes against others, but I think that line of argument is a bit thin.
Putting it that way implies that the question is not whether some red tribe members hold inconsistent positions along the lines discussed but whether almost all of them do. I think the answer is pretty clearly that they don’t.
I noticed, in one of the recent presidential elections, that Wyoming went for the Republican candidate by a large margin and for marijuana legalization (I don’t remember if only medical marijuana) by an even larger margin.
Can someone offer an example of an inconsistent pair that would be true for almost all red tribe members?
It implies (at most) that a comparable number of them do as do Blue tribers holding inconsistent positions.
I think that the kind of hypocrisy where you allow one group to have a thing, but deny the same thing to another group, is fundamentally different from allowing one thing to everyone, but denying something (that you consider) similar to everyone.
In the second case, the conflict is usually over whether the things are actually similar in the relevant way. Of course, in the former case, the conflict is often whether the people are similar in the relevant way (men and women, foreigners and natives, people with legal status and those without, etc)
If I thought the red tribe was doing that, then I would agree, but I don’t think they are. The red tribe is mostly “these substances, in these situations are fine, these other substances in these other situations aren’t”. Crack should carry a higher penalty than cocaine, because of X, where X is not some overriding logical principle, but some ad hoc reason that frequently ignores or contradicts a major stated principle.
I remember that for some time, there were stories about how crack was especially dangerous. If the principle scales with danger, people may have acted consistently based on the information they had.
We’ve also had people argue here that these laws got a lot of support from the black community.
You have to keep in mind that laws that are passed tend to be compromises, not perfect reflections of the principles of one tribe (see Obamacare). So it may be that hardcore anti-drug Republican conservatives merely got their way much more on crack, because they had a strong support among Democrat blacks, while there was no such support for tougher penalties for cocaine.
None of this would excuse people who now still have those positions, nor that the Red tribe in general has avoided (at least) rectifying those situations.
The Congressional Black Caucus also pushed for a crackdown on drugs.
And I doubt Jeff Sessions is going to shed any tears if you increase the penalties for powder cocaine to match crack cocaine.
This is a good example of the rules favoring the rich, but that includes rich blue tribe too. It’s not a good example of a rule applied to benefit the red tribe.
Is it reasonable to treat them as a monolith with a singular opinion? In Kimbrough v. United States, Scalia and Roberts voted in favor of giving courts discretion to impose sentences outside the range dictated by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, in cases involving conduct related to possession, distribution, and manufacture of crack cocaine. Scalia especially, seemed extremely red tribey to me.
Dissent was by Thomas and Alito, where Thomas is of course a black conservative.
There was bipartisan support for the Drug Sentencing Reform Act of 2001. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) sponsored the Fairness in Drug Sentencing Act of 2007 which would have reduced the disparity, while Biden sponsored the Drug Sentencing Reform and Cocaine Kingpin Trafficking Act of 2007 (S. 1711), which would have completely eliminated the disparity.
On July 29, 2009, the United States House Committee on the Judiciary passed proposed legislation, the Fairness in Cocaine Sentencing Act (H.R.3245). It had some support by Republicans in both the House and Senate.
Now, I agree that the red tribe is less willing to reform these laws, but this seems a topic where the opinions are not uniform.
In general, it seems that this is based on a difference in world views. In the blue tribe, the more common view is that more criminal communities are caused by discrimination and that disparate sentencing contributes to this. In the red tribe, the view seems to be far more common that criminal communities have a bad culture and that more criminal communities need harsher policing.
Both worldviews are severely fact-challenged.
I kind of think cocaine vs. crack sentencing is a dead issue in the sense that no one really thinks it’s fair, but no one is willing to reduce the penalties on any drug for fear of looking “soft on crime” it’s basically a ratchet effect combined with the “illegal drugs should be illegal” tautology.
The drugs currently getting the hysterical crackdown (heh) treatment are meth and prescription opiates, so I think there is also some merit to the idea that this is as much about “rich drugs vs poor drugs” as it is about “black drugs vs white drugs”.
But prescription opiates are rich person’s drugs (poor people just use heroin)
I think plenty of poor people use oxycodone.
I was strongly under the impression that crack was more dangerous than cocaine until just now: partly because it was what I had always been told, and partly because it tallied with the contrasting experiences of friends who had frequently taken one or the other.
I say this as someone who is broadly in favour of legalization in general, and who is if anything UK grey-tribe. I’m guessing that a very large proportion of the population is worse-informed than me, probably including many if not most legislators. I do not think anyone has to be acting in bad faith to advocate different penalties for coke and crack, even if such a difference is not justified by the facts.
Minor (or maybe not) clarification. Most of the reaction to crack in the 80s was about crime rates associated with the drug rather than the dangers of the drug vs the dangers of cocaine to the user.
What drugs make people do is also a danger of a drug. For example, alcohol in large quantities often makes people do nasty things.
It’s not just about what it does to your liver.
“What drugs make people do is also a danger of a drug.”
Are the effects of cocaine that different from the effects of crack? I didn’t think so. I think baconbits’ point was less that smoking crack leads to more violence than snorting cocaine, but that crack is associated with lower class people dealing on street corners and shooting rival dealers in their territory, while cocaine is associated with rich-people parties and clubs. So not actually talking about the use of the drug here.
Not sure if its fair to give the crack dealer a harsher sentence than the coke dealer just because the crack dealing is *associated with* more shootings. At the very least, if got arrested for a shooting AND crack possession I’d want a discount on my shooting sentencing since my crack sentencing partly covers it.
I think that it is definitely the perception of many people that crack causes more violence. Whether there is some validity to that is unclear to me. I haven’t seen solid evidence one way or the other.
This is not the standard being applied, and if it were it would be another example of hypocrisy as almost no one on the right was agitating for the legalization of weed and a ban on alcohol based on these reasons.
Not using that reason against weed makes sense, because weed users behave quite well, as long as they don’t get a psychosis.
Alcohol seems to be treated like an exception by just about everyone, because there are so many users and because of the success of prohibition.
I’m sure there’s plenty of broken thinking on the red tribe, too, but doesn’t that seems a bit like changing the subject? I mean, there’s a general question that a lot of people here have been asking, that’s something like “where would I find a reasonably high-quality statement of SJW views with which I could engage in good faith.” [ETA]This is a person whose credentials suggest that she should be a source of that kind of statement. And yet, we got this op-ed.
I recommend a thought experiment. Imagine someone who has been the victim of violent crime at the hands of blacks a few times writing this same essay, explaining why they want to hate blacks but maybe it’s not quite right to do so, while blaming all blacks for whatever bad thing they can think of that any black guy has ever done. That essay, which you could rewrite from this one with relatively little effort, would be unpublishable anywhere this side of stormfront. For good reason.
The underlying moral error here is collective guilt–holding me responsible for what others in my broad category (men) have done. (There’s also a lot of selective focus, here–men are collectively responsible for male sexual violence, but not for the smallpox vaccine or the industrial revolution. The whole piece is really a dumpster fire.)
To the extent that this writing is representative of the quality of thought and particularly the moral foundations of the broad feminist/SJW movement, it mainly says “Run away, we are a bunch of dangerous lunatics!”
If the issue that you are pointing to is a lack of consistency, then you should try to be scrupulous in avoiding inconsistency in your arguments and points (I fail this standard frequently). If a statement like “the problem with the blue tribe is” could be reasonably accurately replaced with “the problem with tribalism is” then I think it should.
In general, most of the arguments that are used to claim that men have toxic enculturation can be used to claim the same about blacks and many of the arguments used to claim that blacks are oppressed can be used to claim that men are oppressed.
So SJ may depend on double standards and taboos to question these, to be able to exist as it does.
Exactly. Social Justice as we know it literally cannot exist without taboos on Socratic dialectic/certain types of rationality.
It’s possible that there exist tribes that don’t have this problem. So saying something like “the problem is tribalism is that the tribe taboos rationality” could be an error of the same sort as Anglophone atheists saying “The problem with religion is that they trick you into donating ten percent of your income.”
My objection to her piece is not that I think she’s inconsistent, so much as that the moral basis of her position seems to me to be horrible.
@Aapje: Agreed on the men/black thing. As I understand it, the core of this comes down to the argument that because (straight white) men have (and historically definitely HAD) the power, that systematic ways in which men are disadvantaged and/or do worse things which have bad effects on them as well as others (e.g. commit crime) are results of ‘toxic masculinity’ and in some sense ‘men’s own fault’ whereas the systematic ways black people are disadvantaged / do worse things are a product of white oppression.
There’s a sort of blurring whereby at one level ‘the Patriarchy’ is explicitly referred to as something that is created by and harms men AND women but on the other that all men have some sort sort of group guilt for it.
As far as I can see it comes down to the focus on groups over individuals and the focus on power (and the combination of the two to see power as a group quality: ‘black people don’t have power’ is used to describe dynamics between one black person and one white person, even though the former might be richer, more influential etc.)
The obvious counter to the claim that straight white men have/had power is the intersectional argument that straight white men are not a monolith. The history of Western nations involves nobility, serfdom, disenfranchisement of poor straight white men, etc.
Furthermore, choosing to select straight white men as a group to contrast with others is not an objective choice, but is a narrative chosen based on a worldview shaped by one’s background (see Derrida and Foucault for how one can deconstruct feminism).
As a model of how the world works, the notion that only white men have power is pretty bad at describing or predicting how things work.
For example, middle-class white men have much more power than working-class black men. So go down to Baltimore and pick a fight with a black policeman, and see how that works out in terms of power dynamics. You’ll soon be exercising your white privilege to go to your dentist and have those missing teeth replaced with implants, while the cop has to wipe some bloody bits off his nightstick and fill out a lot of really tiresome paperwork.
albatross11, do you have actual cases of black police from Baltimore assaulting white people for inadequate reasons?
More generally, are there any good sources for tracking abuse by police in general rather than only focusing on cases where black people are abused?
You should look at Peter Moskos’s blog. It’s not active anymore, but he used to have posts on police shootings by state etc. He also had a list of police shootings he sent John McWhorter when John McWhorter wrote an article about people getting shot by the police claiming that bad police shootings don’t happen to white people that often. Turns out they do. McWhorter withdrew his claim. It happens with less relative frequency to population size than it happens to black people but still comparablish absolute frequency. White people just don’t really care that much; they’ll assume it was justified unless proven otherwise.
Another interesting thing is the disparities between states in per capita police shootings are immense. Comparable to the gap between racial and ethnic groups etc. And it’s not like the state differences drive the racial differences or vice versa either.
Only a fool would pick a fight with a police officer so I’m not sure why the possibility of getting your ass kicked is in question. Being white is not much of a protection if you’re hostile in a rough area even if only verbally hostile. It probably improves your odds of avoiding an accident if you’re polite though.
I think Baltimore was just chosen as a random city. Trying the same thing in any U.S. city with any color of policeman will probably work out roughly the same way. Whether the reasons for getting your ass kicked (or shot) will be inadequate is partly a matter of perspective. As noted, white people are a lot more likely to assume someone’s ass was kicked for adequate reasons than black people are. And this holds regardless of the color of who is being beat. Maybe the strength of the assumption varies with race for some people though.
Thanks. Moskos sounds like he’s worth looking into.
I’d recommend his book Cop in the Hood: My Year Policing Baltimore’s Eastern District.
He had originally struck a deal with the Baltimore PD to do ride-alongs with police for his graduate study work. However, the deal fell through after some personnel changes, but the new guy said that he could just go ahead and get him a job as a police officer if he wanted. So Moskos gathered his information for his study as a sworn officer instead of a ride-along.
I don’t have any detailed data, though maybe it exists.
This article in the Baltimore Sun shows pictures of several people who won major police payouts for brutality; it looks like one of the six featured victims was white.
The Baltimore police department is 40% black according to this link (Warning: PDF). And they’re famously brutal. I think it would be pretty amazing if it turned out that the 40% of black Baltimore police officers were super careful never to be brutal to whites who pissed them off, despite being very willing to be brutal to blacks. But I don’t have data showing either way.
Probably not? This world has many tribes, and there’s probably empirical evidence that hypocrisy is a cultural universal. Maybe John Calvin had a reason for his doctrine of Total Depravity besides being a dour meanie head!
Well that’s not actually an example of hypocrisy. We view abortion as homicide and “wanting to ban drugs” is a low-IQ belief, not a hypocritical one. No one in the Red tribe wants all drugs to be illegal, and “all illegal drugs should be illegal” is an actual belief but also a tautology.
No it’s not; it’s possible to support legalisation of drugs (or, interpreting the statement in a different way, to support non-enforcement of laws about drugs).
I think what Le Maistre Chat is saying is that there seem to be a lot of people who think that the fact that a drug is currently illegal constitutes strong evidence that it should be illegal, which is a tautological position to hold.
Oh, as a follow-up to “low-IQ belief”. That makes sense.
You may remember the TODO Open Code of Conduct, which made this double standard — the rules are the rules, but will only be invoked to the benefit of our favored groups — explicit.
I speculate that this turned out to be a bit much for TODOs corporate sponsors to sign on to, and it was abandoned, but similar codes of conduct are of course still enforced that way. The people who write them and enforce them generally have no integrity; they have no intention of enforcing the rules as written, merely using them as cover for their arbitrary actions.
As a matter of fact, I am a member of TODO, as it literally is the industry association of the kind of people who hold my kind of job across different companies, and I was there for that series of unfortunate events. What actually happened was even worse than you suspect, but in different ways than you allude. I will not write it down here, for obvious reasons (#1 of which is doing so has a good chance of summoning a hatemob, and #2 of which is that it starts getting too close to speaking for my employers), but I will tell you the story over a beer, if we ever meet face to face.
This is why it saddens me when people write under their real names rather than pseudonimously. It diminishes our ability to get juicy industry insider gossip.
Both of these problems could have been solved by you posting it under an anonymous account, although now that you have written this, it would be rather obvious that it is you (although you would still have plausible deniability).
Not to pile on, but I generally find “I know this sordid thing, but I’m not telling” more frustrating than either silence or just airing the dirty laundry.
For one thing it encourages negative (and probably incorrect) speculation, and for another it’s trying to have your cake and eat it too: you want social credit for knowing insider info, without the social cost of spilling the beans.
A somewhat-niche open source language/community of which I’m a member recently adopted a code of conduct derived from this one, including the part you quote. I was slightly distressed at this and offered some very mild pushback on the mailing list, but it’s not a hill I wanted to die on and I didn’t feel like risking my standing, such as it is, in that community.
It’s a programming language with primarily artistic applications and I guess most of the major users are academics, so it’s not shocking that blue tribe thinking would be strong there.
I’m sorry about your dev community. 🙁
I found this code of conduct very interesting. The entire code looks very reasonable and useful to me, except the part you quoted. I agree that the paragraph you quoted is terrible, but if they deleted that section, it would be a rather nice code.
The rest of it doesn’t matter. The whole code is just there to give the good and decent people cover for booting out the undesirables; you just say they violated the CoC (the way the Drupal guy did, by being into Gor BDSM) and they’re gone.
Compare this case; a fraternity makes some edgy videos. The videos leak, and people get upset. The school wants to punish them, but their policies guarantee free speech. But wait, there’s an exception — immediate breach of the peace. So, despite the videos in no way, shape, or form having been an immediate breach of the peace, they’re deemed so.
The same goes for Codes of Conduct. If the people who instituted them want you gone, they’ll claim your conduct violated the code even if it didn’t; there’s no one with the power to review their decision, and they have no integrity, so they get away with it. Contrariwise, as we saw with node.js, if you blatantly violate the code of conduct but are one of the good people, your conduct will be summarily ruled acceptable. Again, no integrity and no possibility of review.
The Code of Conduct is merely the barest fig leaf for arbitrary power. It allows those who agree with those in power to claim the people punished did something wrong, and it allows others in the group who might otherwise be sympathetic to convince themselves that the person punished did something wrong; this relieves them of any obligation they might feel to object.
That may be another reason the TODO code was abandoned; by _explicitly_ including the “it’s OK when we do it” wording, the fig leaf may have become a bit TOO transparent.
There is also the fact that the typical feminist narrative, if followed to its logical conclusion, implies that civilization is entirely the product of men, by placing responsibility for the way things are entirely on men.
We can either share both responsibility and blame for the way things are, or we don’t. The implicit argument for a counterfactual world in which women built civilization without any of the flaws it has are just dumb.
Falling into the trap of diagnosing people I don’t know with psychiatric disorders, a lot of the discourse looks like a deep-set struggle with an inferiority complex.
I don’t think diagnosis is needed: it’s just an incredibly convenient argument and people gravitate to those.
You see a similar thing from some atheists, where all the bad stuff done because or in the name of religion is totally the fault of religion whereas it’s assumed the good stuff would have happened anyway.
That male privilege has, for most men for most of history, come hand in hand with a set of not altogether positive responsibilities, obligations, and constraints, is not something that mainstream feminism has dealt particularly well with. I think the problems with that are starting to become more apparent as feminism has succeeded in eliminating or mitigating most of the major and obvious negative inequalities facing women.
For an especially boneheaded example, anyone remember this?
On your last point about tackling it by saying men cause it: I think usually they say ‘the patriarchy’ causes it, but as I say in another answer below it gets blurry as the patriarchy is explicitly created/upheld by women as well as men but does tend to get treated as ‘men’s fault’.
More generally, there’s probably a thing ‘we’re doing this’ means ‘you only get to try to solve this issue if you sign up to our entire agenda’, because in practice ‘feminist’ in that sense usually means more than equality.* It would be like attacking anyone who tries to deal with issues of social welfare without being a paid-up Marxist.
* And if this person who cares about some injustice to men goes to feminist groups to try to discuss it and then while there starts saying he disagrees with the underlying principles they’re bringing to discussions then he’s going to be regarded as an enemy.
It really helps my state of mind to think of this as the usual workings of a fundamentalist religious group. We don’t get upset at any of the perceived hypocrisy of e.g., Hindus not eating cow meat or Muslims not wanting any non-Muslims near the Kaaba, so we similarly should not get upset when these people treat women as their own sacred cows and all of the attendant religious overhead that goes with it.
Desecrating the sacred symbols of a religious group brings predictable outrage; stealing communion wafers and tossing them in the trash is more or less the same thing as saying anything negative about the nature of women. Similarly, saying anything negative about the source of all evil in the world according to the fundamentalists’ beliefs (e.g., Satan, white men, patriarchy) can have no negative repercussions. You might get an “I disagree” but it will be nowhere near the level of opprobrium you’d get when blaspheming the fundamentalists’ sacred symbols.
Thinking like this makes me a lot less angry about the whole thing.
Separation of Feminism and State?
An obvious difference between blaming Satan and white men, is that white men are tangible.
An obvious difference between Kaaba and leadership positions is that the first only really has a benefit to Muslims, while the latter doesn’t merely has a benefit to women.
I promise I’m not be facetious here: is it male privilege that I read this and felt nothing? Like, I’m so ensconced in my privilege that screeds against my kind published in major newspapers do not threaten me?
In a sense, possibly. I would hazard a guess – the issue here is we are talking about how you think, which feels wrong to me, but you are asking – that it may be that you don’t actually feel threatened; you don’t perceive the speaker as anything more relevant than any other crazy person yelling crazy things.
It feels a lot more personal and dangerous when you have experienced things which suggest that there is an actual threat, I think. Not necessarily a physical threat, mind; say, if you have experienced injustice against you for your gender directly, and internalize that these attitudes can harm you. For a personal example, of which I have a few, I encountered a professor in college who failed or kicked out every male student. In the grand scheme of things, not a huge deal, but small injustices can build into large ones.
I’ve actually seen “male privilege” explicitly described for something like this within my peer group on Twitter. The hashtag #killallmen is perpetually cycling in and out of popularity, and during one period when it was particularly in vogue, someone pushed back asking why that was kosher but, say, #killallwomen would be verboten. The response was that, since men have all the power in the world, they have the privilege of looking at the former hashtag and laughing it off as a powerless woman merely lashing out in frustration, while a woman looking at the latter would reasonable to have genuine fear for her life that someone really would act on it.
Interestingly enough, the original tweet in question was something along the lines of “#Killallmen This isn’t a joke, I mean this literally, as in, take every living human who is male and make them dead.”
Not an identical situation, but I think it’s similar enough that your experience can also be described as male privilege.
Since I’m interested in understanding valuable ideas, I think I don’t care so much about that. Someone who wants to kill men is about as likely to teach me something (other than about the banality of evil) as someone who wants to kill Jews.
I see #killallmen (and this version especially) as the inverse of “triggering the libs”
I don’t find it triggering, though. I either roll my eyes, or think “haha that chick needs to get laid.”
Inside voice, Conrad.
Conrad, I’m tempted to think you have not being Jewish privilege so that you don’t see the building-a-mob aspect of Social Justice, but actually, there are plenty of Jews who don’t react to Social Justice the way I do.
You might have a calmer temperament than some.
I get what you’re saying, and I thought about that on the drive home yesterday, that I would be frightened by something like this if it were about a minority group I was part of. If I were say a Christian living in a Muslim country and their largest papers were publishing things like “why shouldn’t we hate all the Christians?”
But as is I see a #KillAllMen hashtag and think “you and what army, and will that army not have any men in it?”
ETA: Alternatively, I’m reminded of the joke about the Jewish man in Germany who loved reading the Nazi propaganda because “the newspapers are so depressing, but in this stuff we Jews are rich, powerful, and running everything! It’s great!”
This is exactly the reasoning behind the social justice double standard: it’s laughable that American men will be rounded up and put into camps; Christians in Pakistan and Jews in 1930s Germany, jokes notwithstanding, would not have been so blase.
For the record, I think the “kill all men” stuff is dumb and awful, and I don’t want to defend it, but this is exactly why SJ people regard feminists saying junk like this as less worrisome than a KKK member saying “kill all blacks”.
“Kill all blacks” is just as laughable. Even at their height, the KKK wasn’t anywhere near accomplishing or even attempting genocide. Now? Not a chance.
But that’s another characteristic of the SJW double standard; any theoretical threat to “marginalized” groups is Very Serious Business, but real (though lesser) threats, like firings or admissions discrimination or Title IX hearings or false accusations, to non-“marginalized” groups are considered trivial, laughable, and/or desirable.
“Just as” laughable seems like an exaggeration: there really have been racially motivated murders against blacks, in large numbers, and that did serious damage to whole black communities.
The only example I can think of where a man was (nearly) murdered by someone who might have had an ideological hatred of men in particular: the author of the SCUM manifesto’s attempted murder of Andy Warhol.
The black population of the US in 1880 was over 6.5 million. The number of lynchings of black people recorded between 1882 and 1968 was 3446. Yes, there have been racially motivated murders (and there still are). Not genocide, however, not in the US, not even close.
The Tulsa, OK race riot / bombing was an incident where white people killed enough black people and burned down enough of their houses & businesses that the survivors just up and evacuated. They didn’t necessarily “kill all blacks”, but they killed enough to change the demographics of the town for generations.
What to me makes “kill all (wo)men” laughable in a way that “kill all [ethnic group]” is not is that sexual attraction are existentially important in a way that racial diversity isn’t. You can’t actually create a functional society with 0.00 (fe)males.
Right. Someone saying “kill all the white men” in 2018 America isn’t all that scary, because there’s not any obvious way they could accomplish that goal. The sentiment is just as evil as “kill all the gay people,” or “kill all the Jews,” but the path to accomplishing the proposed genocide is implausibly long and difficult. (Hopefully it’s implausibly long and difficult for any of those three.)
On the other hand, I think it’s corrupting to justify morally atrocious statements because they’re on your side, or you kinda see some point to them, or whatever. And that seems to me to be something that a hell of a lot of ideologies and extreme movements do all the time–someone on my side is saying something utterly horrible, and I somehow defend it because it’s my side, or at least remain silent because I don’t want to argue with people on my side.
 This is the same category I put Sharia law into–yes, it would suck to somehow have Muslims in the US take over and impose some kind of religious-based law that took away some of the rights of non-Muslims. But there’s basically no way for that to happen that I can see, so it’s a nasty ideology with no real chance of getting enacted, not a nasty ideology with some plausible chance of getting enacted if things go just wrong for the next couple decades.
I’m not arguing that there has been genocide, I’m arguing that someone saying “kill all black people” represents a real danger of at least murder, maybe mass murder, in a way that “kill all men” doesn’t. Pogroms against Jews in Russia seem to have killed a few thousand people, based on Wikipedia, out of about 4 million Jews. This is roughly the same ratio as lynchings to black population. Should a Jew in Russia in 1900, or even today, be as unconcerned by someone advocating “kill all Jews” as a red-haired person in contemporary America should be by someone saying “kill all gingers?”
Are you aware of any misandrist murders in America? As I say, I know of maybe one. Which means the ratio of how much we should worry about the sentiment “kill all blacks” to “kill all men” is on the order of at least 1000:1.
The argument isn’t “kill all blacks” is more likely to be implemented in full; it’s that it’s more likely to be implemented in part. The guy saying “kill all blacks” will not kill all, or most, or many blacks. But there’s a real, if very small chance he will kill one black person, or two. The woman saying “kill all men” has a chance of killing even a single man at least three orders of magnitude smaller. So, we should be roughly three orders of magnitude more concerned about “kill all blacks” than “kill all men”.
There are obviously too many men and too few violent women for a genocide to work out. I’m much more concerned about people creating a (more) discriminatory society, especially for a subset of men that get made into the scapegoats who have to pay for the sins of all men.
I agree about increased prejudice rather than mass murder.
I also detest the idea that some people get to express anger and other people have to endure that anger.
Yes, and the race riots of the 1960s and 1970s changed the demographics of many US cities in the other direction. Still not genocide. Yet “Kill Whitey” is acceptable, “Kill <racial slur for blacks>” is not. And while neither men nor women alone can form a sustainable society, “killallmen” is acceptable, “killallwomen” is not.
The difference isn’t whether or not the threat can really be carried out. The difference is only in the location of the target on the progressive stack.
No, neither is acceptable.
And your talk about ‘the progressive stack’ is an impressive attempt to ignore the distinctions that have been pointed out to you by abstracting far enough away. If it helps to put it in your terms, these groups weren’t randomly put anywhere on the stack. Both women and african americans can legitimately claim to have (historically) been the target of violence because of their group membership in a way that’s not true for white men. Because of this, and because of their lower ability to carry out such threats members of these groups are sometimes cut more slack, e.g. in the sense that #killallmen is understood as an expression of frustration, not as a plan of action.
That doesn’t make it ok. It just means that #killallwomen is memetically linked to honor killings and there’s nothing similar for #killallmen, so there’s less emotion/worry.
I do not believe these distinctions are the true reason for the difference in treatment, but rather rationalizations.
Then I believe the thing to do around here would be to argue why you believe so, not merely assert.
It seems to me that the word “acceptable” is doing the work here. Acceptable to whom?
I did that above. I pointed out that there is no current actual threat to black people or women. I pointed out that there was NEVER any threat of genocide to black people in the United States. By the same argument that there is no real possibility to #killallmen, there is no possibility to #killallwomen. All these imply that possibility of the event actually occurring is not a rational basis for some of these sentiments being completely unacceptable and others being OK.
If it doesn’t take Literal Genocide to taboo #killallblacks and #killallwomen while #killallwhites and #killallwhites remain OK on account of being “obviously” figurative and not a credible threat, if e.g. lynchings at a rate of ~50 year are the sort of thing that can be used to divide #hahagenocide hashtags into acceptable and unacceptable, then that lowers the bar on both sides.
In order for #killallwhites and #killallmen to still be OK, you have to establish that it isn’t credible for feminist or “antifa” terrorism to escalate to the level of ~50 dead white men per year. Since e.g. the women’s suffrage movement involved literal bomb-throwing anarchism, since antifa has escalated to a disturbingly high level of nonlethal violence accompanied by potentially lethal rhetoric, I’m not sure that’s a fight you want to pick.
If all you’ve got is “obviously all my friends who do hashtag-kill-all-your-friends are just letting off steam and won’t really kill anybody, but all your friends doing the same are a literally terrifying lethal criminal menace”, then yeah, that’s not going to convince anyone outside your bubble.
Again, the issue isn’t whether there’s a possibility of the hashtag being implemented in full, it’s the degree to which the hashtag stands in for the likelihood of violence against that group in general.
#KillallJews is problematic not because we literally think the murder of every American Jew is possible (even Hitler only killed a third of Europe’s Jews!), but because #KillallJews is the kind of slogan that has been used by the sorts of people who kill some Jews, or indeed, any Jews. Both #KillallJews and #KillallGingers are unacceptable, mean-spirited, and awful sentiments–but one of them has a real body count behind it and the other doesn’t. The odds of gingers and Jews being genocided are a rounding error of a rounding error; the odds of gingers or Jews being targeted for violence is still tiny in both cases, but the odds of Jews being genocided or targeted for violence are orders of magnitude bigger than for gingers. This is why #KillallJews is worse than #KillallGingers.
For #KillallMen vs #KillallWomen, the issue isn’t (just) “who is more likely to experience actual genocide”, it’s also “who is more likely to be targeted for violence based on being a man or woman”. I’ll ask again: are you aware of any men being attacked for the crime of being a man? If not, then even if there are only a few hundred women who are murdered for misogynistic reasons, we should still conclude that #KillallWomen is at least two orders of magnitude more dangerous than #KillallMen, and treat them appropriately.
I’m not saying they’re okay, I’m saying how not okay such a hashtag is does in fact depend on the body counts involved. The only thing I can find searching for murders perpetrated by Antifa is a Dutch police horse who was killed; maybe there’s more. If Antifa violence ever rises to the level of white-on-black lynchings in the 1880s we should get worked up by #KillallFascists in a way that we don’t today.
This is rather typical in war. See Boko Haram and Srebrenica, for example.
Are you suggesting that Boko Haram is motivated, even in part, by misandry? The men targeted at Srebrenica weren’t targeted for being men, they were targeted for being Bosniac men; had they been Serbian men, or even, I don’t know, Lithuanian men, they would have been left alone. Had they been Bosnian women, they still would have been attacked, as evidenced by the fact that…Bosniac women were in fact murdered at Srebrenica, albeit in smaller numbers, and were also subject to rape, deportation, etc.
To make the matter plain: how much do you think the perpetrators of Srebrenica would have agreed with each of the hashtags #KillallMen or #KillallBosniacs?
I’m saying that Boko Haram & the Serbs* specifically targeted men, because they saw men as being particularly dangerous.
This is the reason that the article gives to hate men. So both are heads of the same Hydra.
* Most of the women and children were put on buses and driven to Bosniak territory.
They didn’t target men, they targeted Bosniac men! If they regarded men, with no qualifier as dangerous, they could have stayed at home and rounded up Serbian men! The reason the victims at Srebrenica died had to do with them being Bosniac. Had they not been Bosniac, they would not have been targeted at all. Had they still been Bosniac, but women, they would have been raped, deported, and still murdered, but murdered in fewer numbers. How this shows that the perpetrators were motivated by anti-male animus and not anti-Muslim or anti-Bosniac animus I do not understand.
Let me ask my question again: if you had given out a survey to the perpetrators of Srebrenica asking them to rate agreement or disagreement on a scale of 1-10 with the statements: “Kill all men” and “Kill all Bosniacs”, what do you think the ratings would look like?
If you had a counterfactual world where Srebrenica were populated by Serbs, and a counterfactual world where Srebrenica were populated only by (Bosniac) women, and Ratko Mladic and his boys were approaching the village, which counterfactual world would look closer to the outcome in the actual existing world?
I’ve already said that men in their entirety are not going to be targeted, but that outgroup men are.
The Bosniak men were the outgroup. The ingroup men were the executioners.
The reason why the Bosniak men were executed and the women were mostly let go is their gender.
“Kill the men, rape the women” is probably as old as the first time a tribe of hunter-gatherers got in a conflict with another. It’s hardly proof of antipathy towards men.
The thing you are doing is one of the reasons I stopped hanging out here.
You aren’t confused by the argument, you just don’t want to admit the point.
I have already admitted the point, others just don’t want to move past it.
This whole argument is special pleading, and an attempt to split hairs finer than the Planck length. There’s been more killing of whites for being white than women for being women. But KillWhitey is ok and KillWomen is not.
What would you count as killing a woman for being a woman?
Something like Marc Lepine(14) or Eliot Rodger (2). There are probably some number of less publicized killings. But a _very_ small number. Can’t count rather more common murders of prostitutes, because (as with killing enemy men), that’s killing them because they were women who were prostitutes, not because they were women. I’m not sure how to count the Redheaded murders — do they count as killing of gingers for being ginger, women for being women, or neither because they were killing of _ginger women_?
Though maybe Lepine doesn’t actually count, because he may have been trying to kill _feminists_, which makes the motive political, not misogynistic. Like I said, splitting hairs smaller than the Planck length.
You conceded the point, then proceeded to continue arguing against it.
It’s not special pleading, as contextualizing bias in terms of power structures has long been a part of the intellectual framework.
Anyway, the entire thread is stupid by trying to equivocate between Jews & blacks and women. Jews have been killed for being Jews in large numbers. Black people have been enslaved rather brutally and such.
This is simply not comparable to what has happened to women.
Frankly, this kind of equivocation is rather common and shows the problems that SJ ideology causes. It makes people classify humans in two categories, the oppressed and the oppressors, in a way that makes little sense.
I was arguing a different point, although I should probably just have abandoned the discussion.
Yeah it would be good to just be nice to each other.
Yeah and we should kill everyone who isn’t willing to do that.
Arguably women were literal property in far higher percentages and for longer than (African slave trade) slaves, although their rights movement was more successful earlier in some ways.
I don’t think that espousing the idea #killallmen is useful, helpful, or even thought provoking. It’s essentially all heat and no light.
But, do you honestly think people endorsing this actually intend for killing any men at all? Or is more like this George Carlin bit? (A list of people who ought to be killed. 1) People who read self-help books…)
Language and ideas are slippery. Frustration and anger is expressed in hyperbole. Do you think this individual is actually advocating the death of people, or even that there could be a credible resultant movement that actually desires the extermination or even simply expulsion of all males?
ETA: And note that the original article in question doesn’t use the hashtag in question. The only hashtag it uses that it’s supporting is #BecausePatriararchy. So this whole argument has been about a weak man. The tone of the original article is “men, broadly, piss me the fuck off”.
Which doesn’t even prevent her from conceding the point you seem to be making, that blanket condemnations aren’t correct:
I have not argued this. This kind of incredulous demand that I explain why I believe something that I don’t believe and have not argued is a little frustrating.
These are macroaggressions and thus violence. 😛
Seriously, it is part of the ideology of these people that this kind of thing aimed at their ingroup is horrible and even a much lesser variant is quite bad.
I simply agree with them on the more extreme cases & I’m also not a hypocrite.
She doesn’t actually argue that. She argues that we should both criticize structural oppression, but that we should also just hate individual men.
Just to clarify my comment, I wasn’t saying that “Kill all [any person or group]” is acceptable*. Personally, I would even object to “Kill all Nazis” (except in the context of a video game). Even if you’re just letting off steam, even if you have some good reasons to be upset, please don’t voice that as “Murder these people”.
I meant that “Kill all (wo)men”, while still highly objectionable, is also laughable for its implausibility. There’s no way society would function if you wiped out the 50% of the population who make sexual reproduction possible, and the overwhelming majority of men and women are actually biologically programmed to enjoy the company of the other. Meanwhile, ethnic cleansing is something that has been seriously attempted and accomplished on more than a few occasions.
Regarding killing women for being women, I think, as dndnrsn says, the standard is usually “Kill all men, and rape the women”. So violent misogynists are more likely to show up as serial rapists (who possibly also murder), not as Elliot Rodgers. I still object to “Rape all men” and “Kill all women” even though realistically it’s usually the other way around.
*I guess to take Eugene’s example of “Kill all Jews” vs “Kill all gingers”, I’d be more likely to assume the “Kill all gingers” person was entirely joking, and would take it much less seriously even if I objected to it. I don’t think “Kill all white men” people are entirely joking, I think there is real — if not necessarily lethal — animosity behind it, and I do object.
Would you count women killed by serial killers? Would you count domestic-violence murders (which are mostly male-on-female) as women killed for being women? A lot of feminists would. There’s a lot more women killed by men than vice versa – how does one consider such gendered violence in general? Men committing more or less violence against women is an aggregate thing of guys murdering their female partners more or less often, not some generallissimo putting women on boxtrains to internment camps.
mdet has it right. You can’t look at an ethnic group and a gender and compare when those groups have been targeted. The category “women” includes “women who are a part of your tribe or village or nation or whatever” which is a completely different dynamic than Bordurian vs Freedonians or whatever. See my comment above to The Nybbler – it’s like pointing out that smoking cigarettes doesn’t usually result in large numbers of people dying in the same place at the same time, and neglecting to address how smoking kills you.
Violence by men against women doesn’t look like “run them all outta town” or “this land must be made frauenrein” or whatever. The median case is on a small scale, but there are plenty of such cases.
Only if that’s the only reason for being killed. Remember we’re not counting men killed in war when women are spared because in that case they’re being killed because they’re enemy men.
I know these are unreasonable standards. That’s my point. Those who insist that saying #KillAllMen is just harmless blowing off steam but saying #KillAllWomen is the mark of a monster don’t have any _good_ reason for this.
What defines “literal property”?
I find it hard to think of any past society where women were literal property in the full sense in which slaves were–commodities with no rights of their own who belonged to someone and could be sold by that someone to someone else.
In what societies was a man free to kill his daughters but not his sons? His wife?
There are a lot more men killed by men than women killed by men–indeed, a lot more men killed than women killed. So if that’s gendered violence, it is on net against men.
You can easily argue that men discriminate in favor of women, when it comes to using violence.
The Dutch mafia has an honor code where the wives/partners of criminals are not killed. Male family is clearly not exempted, as recently a brother of a criminal who talked to the police was murdered (the brother was not a criminal)
Specifically, men commit murders at a much higher rate than women, and both men and women mostly kill men.
In 2010 (the most recent year I can find detailed statistics), there were 3,872 men murdered by men, 1,698 women murdered by men, 405 men murdered by women, and 148 women murdered by women. These numbers are specifically for single-perp/single-victim incidents, though.
Murderers in peacetime are arguably not the same breed as people who kill during war. You’re also ignoring my point, which is that judging it on the lack of acute large-body-count incidents, you’re ignoring the chronic issue: a man who believes that is probably more likely to beat his wife, murder his ex-girlfriend, whatever. He’s not going to bust out crates of machetes, but there’s a threat to women. The distaff hashtag would worry me if the radfems started building unstoppable robots, but the gender studies department is not known for its robotics program.
Most victims and most perpetrators of violence are men, leaning more male the more serious the violence gets. Men do more violence to women than women do to men, or, at least, do more serious violence – by some stats it’s conceivable that women hit male partners as often as men hit female partners, but men are far more likely to put a female partner in the hospital or the morgue than vice versa). The former is gendered, the latter isn’t. We can replace the term “gendered” with “intergender” violence if that makes it clearer.
Is it discriminating in the favour of children there, too? Or is it just putting only grown men into the category of “combatants”? I think this is orthogonal to “discriminate for/against” myself.
Domestic violence is perpetrated by both men and women against both men and women. This fails as a reason that #KillAllMen is “merely blowing off steam” but “#KillAllWomen” is a mark of a monster.
As for gender studies departments making unstoppable robots, I believe they call them Title IX administrators, domestic violence courts, and HR departments. If you start looking beyond things like literal misandric or misogynistic murder, you can find all sorts of things going both ways.
Only by applying a very carefully tailored standard can you separate them, and furthermore this standard will not apply to race, which I think demonstrates that it is not the true reason for the difference.
Yes, men are far stronger than women on average.
Of course. Children are very often treated different than adults.
When that difference is not putting a bullet in them, I would classify that as ‘in favor.’
Didn’t Eliot Rodger end up killing just as many men as he did women?
It’s true that he hated women, although it’s not as if his opinion of men (other than himself) was particularly high…
He hated men too.
Firs, you’re putting words in my mouth. The first is obnoxious, and “oh can’t you take a joke I don’t really mean it” is dicey regardless of who’s doing it. Both could mark someone as being obnoxious, edgy, whatever; the second is however also far more likely to mark someone as being more likely to actually have a go at what the hashtag suggests. Domestic violence past a certain level of severity is far more men against women than vice versa.
Well, yes, if you do interpretations of what people said, you can do that. But there are far more men actually killing women than vice versa.
Eh, I don’t think it has to be that carefully tailored. And why does it matter that the standard doesn’t work for many situations of ethnic conflict? You don’t have to believe that all oppression or whatever follows one model. People who have one universal model of oppression tend to have a faulty worldview.
Look, again, it’s obnoxious. I tend to distance myself from people who post “oh haha kill all menz lol” or whatever; it’s obnoxious and it is one of the possible indicators that this is a person who is very sensitive about slights to them but not especially careful about avoiding slights to other people – it’s the mirror of the guy who makes misogynistic jokes but gets all fired up about whatever toxoplasma some clickbait-feminist just posted on Twitter. Juvenile and self-centred. But it doesn’t worry me.
You could say that society treats children as relatively harmless, is generally harsher on adults than children, etc, but you could also say that children are denied rights, etc. I don’t think it can be fairly said that this is being the beneficiary of discrimination. It might be in favour in that one situation, sure; being a juvenile is preferable if you’re being charged with a crime, but you don’t get to vote.
It’s correct that the benefits usually come with a cost. Feminists argue the same when it comes to women (benevolent sexism).
I argue that this tends to be true for everyone.
“Eat the rich” is not taboo, has resulted in millions of deaths, and makes me a bit nervous
Not that Aapje needs or wants this at all, but I wish to balance out this comment by HeelBearCub (06/16 @ 7:17am):
The thing you are doing is one of the reasons I stopped hanging out here.
I just wanted to say that Aapje is one of a handful of regular posters on SSC whose comments I tend to read first. I find his comments are generally thoughtful, help me see some issues more clearly or in a new light, and they tend to act as landmarks in the thread for interesting discussions.
Oof, this has gone a bit out of control while I’ve been away. I’ll just say:
1) I did confuse Aapje’s point with the Nybbler’s, so apologies for that. I still am not convinced; if I understand correctly in his model, misandrist rhetoric doesn’t portend misandrist violence, it portends outgroup directed violence, with a specific targeting of men. But I don’t think any historical examples of outgroup-directed violence were preceded by specifically misandrist rhetoric, so I still don’t think the argument works.
2) In light of all the discussion of #KillallMen and #KillallWomen above, let’s remember I objected to the Nybbler’s comparison of #KillallMen and #KillallBlacks as equally likely to result in mass violence. If we set aside the issue of #KillallWomen, do people at least agree that #KillallBlacks is almost certainly orders of magnitude more portentous of violence than #KillallMen?
I don’t know about “orders of magnitude,” but I agree that it is much more portentious for at least two reasons:
1. There are many more men than blacks, so killallmen is much less believable.
2. Violence is mostly done by men, but killallmen presumably has to be done by women.
It may be unlikely that any group is going to literally kill all men, but it is plausible that they could do things that are hostile to men in some way other than actually killing them. Someone who is willing to kill men only in the abstract may be likely treat accused men as guilty, or discriminate against men, or mistreat male students, etc. and those things can all happen in the real world.
It’s the same idea as “nobody’s going to literally kill all the blacks, but they might lynch a few”.
Whether they’d succeed in actually killing them all is beside the point. It’s a threat if you’re worried they’re going to kill you. Do you think “kill 10% of all men” is less of a threat than “kill 10% of all blacks”? In either case, a black person has just as much of a chance of being killed as a man does.
Not necessarily. These people aren’t always of perfect moral consistency. For the gun control analogy – they have no qualms about arming government agents with guns for the purpose of confiscating the guns of people they dislike. I can see a world where they enlist Woke Male Allies to do the killing, with the understanding that they get the bullet last, or would be expect to honorably commit suicide or some such thing.
Ok, so does anyone disagree with the following points:
—”Kill All X” is always objectionable and we should frown upon it, even / especially when it’s used casually
—Some usages of it are more likely to be associated with literal homicidal intent than others. “Kill All Gingers” is going to be a joke 99.9% of the time, such that I wouldn’t even assume any real animosity.
Because it sounds to me like this argument is between people making the first point and people making the second point, when both can be true.
I agree with that.
However, I still think that the entire discussion is a bit of a red herring. Black people and Jews have more chance to be genocided than men, but it is still incredibly unlikely to happen in the West.
Realistically speaking, mistreatment is a more immediate concern. When SJ people complain about the effect of certain speech, they generally talk about such things as police brutality, court sentencing and abortion laws, not gas chambers.
My argument is that the evidence suggests that some of this mistreatment is worse for men, which from my perspective makes it rather hypocritical to have a feminist write this and having her not be called out by a substantial number of other feminists.
I can’t speak to others, but I 100% agree that genocide is vanishingly unlikely for anyone in America in the near future. The point of looking to historical mistreatment isn’t to argue that those exact persecutions will happen again, but to get a sense of the background conditions that are relevant to judging how likely any mistreatment is.
The fact that Jews are more likely to be genocided than redheads is the extreme case of the more general rule that Jews are more likely to suffer violence based on their Jewish identity than redheads, which is itself a special case of the even more general proposition that Jews are more likely to suffer discrimination based on their identity than redheads.
Genocide is just an extreme special case to drive home the disparity: discrimination against Jews is pervasive enough that in living memory it escalated all the way to genocide; discrimination against redheads is innocuous enough that even most redheads probably find it laughable.
I’ll also say, I don’t think that looking at historical patterns of discrimination is the end of the matter, or that the extreme cases necessarily generalize all the way down in the way sketched above, and that it’s possible for people to disagree about the relative likelihoods of discrimination against various groups even if they agree on the history. But I think it should be fairly unobjectionable that past patterns of discrimination are important evidence for what patterns of discrimination we should be concerned with going forward–even if we don’t have to agree that the scale of past discrimination is evidence that discrimination of the same scale will return, it might still be evidence that discrimination of the same kind will return.
I think that it’s an oversimplification to see all injustice as a smooth spectrum with genocide on the far end & then to conclude that the lack of genocides means that serious injustice has not existed.
There are different kinds of injustice and not all stem from a desire to get rid of a group completely.
Many people argue that serious injustice has been done to women, but women have never been subject to genocide, so…
Of course it’s an oversimplification, but I think in the few cases where there have been genocides/attempted genocides, we are warranted to believe that discrimination against the targeted groups is likely to be a bigger issue than in other cases. Hence my disagreement with the Nybbler that #KillallMen and #KillallBlacks are equally unlikely.
That’s basically how I’d take it. It’s a morally awful sentiment either way, and it’s a completely unrealistic proposal in our society either way, but someone saying “let’s kill all the Jews” strikes me as being a lot more likely to actually be planning to commit some murders than someone saying “let’s kill all the white men.”
This is sort-of like the way that the communists have an even bigger body count than the Nazis, but if someone tells you he’s a communist, it usually means he’s got terrible political ideas but is otherwise an okay neighbor or coworker, whereas if someone tells you he’s a Nazi, he’s probably a pretty unpleasant and unsafe person to hang around even if you’re a perfect Aryan.
The WaPo piece begins by claiming it’s not about Eric Schneiderman, but I think it is. Part of the #MeToo narrative has been that the misogyny of, say, Charlie Rose, was evident in his negative coverage of Hillary Clinton as well as his monstrous behavior in the workplace. Pore through the history of any ousted perpetrator and you’ll find something similarly damning. (Except maybe Al Franken, but his wrongdoing is under a sufficiently big cloud that it’s in toxoplasma territory.)
And then comes Schneiderman, who had a flawless record on women’s issues, was woke as fuck, got feted on the Samantha Bee show… and turned out to be an abusive monster. And to this it’s a natural reaction to say, welp, I guess we can’t trust men at all.
I’m not saying I agree. I’m saying I understand.
I don’t believe this explanation. For one thing, the author explicitly denies it. For another thing, this is a professor steeped in feminist and queer theory. The idea that this sort of thing would surprise her is ridiculous.
I mean more along the lines of the general zeitgeist, and the editor who approved the article.
(And how the writer may have moderated her radicalism, in appreciation for the work male allies have done for the feminist cause, but then once a high-profile ally got exposed she said fuck it, #YesAllMen.)
I can see what you’re saying, and it makes sense in terms of human psychology. And it’s not like the people who can go along with this kind of line of thinking are generally monsters or anything.
But I keep coming back to this mental image of an alternative world where the equivalent op-ed was published in the Washington Post, by some moderately prominent white nationalist (“Dr Spencer is a professor of European Culture at Bob Jones University”), about whether whites should hate all blacks. In that world, I don’t think there would be many people talking about understanding where the writer was coming from, or recognizing that maybe this was just trying to make a big splash and get attention for the writer. Instead, I think we would be having a society-wide freakout, one that would end with the editorial staff of the Washington Post being let go en masse, and quite possibly with the paper being shut down by its management as its brand had become toxic.
In that alternative world, there wouldn’t be any discussion (except maybe here and a few other isolated places) about how, after a couple vaguely BLM-associated black nutcases murdered some cops, and after the footage on all the right-wing websites showing a series of black mobs beating down whites, it was maybe understandable. There wouldn’t be any tolerance from mainstream culture for conservatives who chose to remain quiet and just ignore this disagreeable, but understandable, really, argument from a distinguished scholar of the cause of white rights.
 Of course, every mass atrocity ever committed has been done mostly by people who weren’t monsters.
I’ll admit I’m massively skeptical about the idea that somehow, sexual predators somehow leak their evil intentions in, say, the way they report on the news.
Maybe I hang out too much on Hillary twitter, but last fall there were megathreads of anti-Hillary comments from every media figure accused of wrongdoing. The obvious implication was that generalized misogyny was the cause of both their monstrous private behavior and their publicly stated views.
Now maybe this correlation doesn’t mean anything. There aren’t many people in the middle ground between the 100% Hillary supporters and those who begrudgingly supported her for lack of better alternatives and the former group is overwhelmingly female. Thus any man is likely to have said something negative about her if you search widely enough. And hey, Chris Cillizza was just as vapid and anti-Hillary as Mark Halperin but only one of them is a (known) sexual harasser.
But outside the rationalsphere, when people see a long list of quotes from bad men, they don’t wonder if you’re cherry-picking. Especially in the #resist crowd where any suggestion that Hillary was less than perfect is instant grounds for denunciation.
Isn’t discussing the subject of that post heavily discouraged? Or did that get lifted?
Only on “off-weekend hidden open threads” or such. If it doesn’t say so, anything (that follows normal SSC commenting guidelines) goes.
I was hoping it was something about clowns.
I mean… in a way, it is.
You know where you WON’T be forbidden from discussing the culture war on Sundays?
The usual answer to that is “Hitler”, but I don’t see how it applies here.
The Contra Cruise!
I went last year, but probably won’t go this year.
I was eager to find out what “cluture” was a pun on, and disappointed to realize that it was a typo.
If it’s necessary for men to voluntarily abdicate positions of power in order for feminists/women to succeed, it seems like a poor thing to advocate for. The only people who would listen and then do that would be feminist men, leaving the positions of power open to only the most toxic of men who would use their evil patriarchy powers to oppress women, preventing them from obtaining the positions of power anyway.
Shh! They haven’t figured that out yet!
Of course they really mean that other white dudes should give up their jobs. I know it’s the oldest and normiest of anti-leftist propositions but it’s true; it’s always that “someone” should do something, never that “you” should do anything.
That’s not quite what I mean. I understand this woman wants all men to abdicate positions of power. But picture in your head the man who reads this and says “my goodness, she’s right. I’m going to step down from my public office to make way for a woman.” Is that man anything like Donald Trump?
Relevant story from America’s finest news source.
Strange how rarely I hear about a woman asking her significant other to abdicate a position of power…
I’m sure it happens, but probably not for these reasons.
It’s obviously a rallying cry not usually meant to be taken literally. But within feminist-related spaces, it might occasionally be an effective way to gain a little more power that some feminist men might otherwise have.
My 4th Myth is about regulatory capture.
Myth #4. That regulating occupations keeps them from exploiting consumers. Regulating occupations benefit those established in those occupations at the expense of consumers and those trying to enter the occupation.
When the government sets up occupational regulations, they need to have experts on the occupation to tell them what rules make sense. Also experts are needed to administer those laws for the government. Where do they find these experts? Obviously it has to be people who have worked in the occupation. These experts will look at issues from the point of view of those in the occupation and so will naturally favor that occupation.
Also, after the initial flurry of legislation to regulate an occupation, it is usually those in the occupation itself that have the most interest in the rules. Ultimately, it is those in the occupation that end up writing and enforcing the laws. As a result, the main effect of the regulations is to keep competitors out and prices up. (See Licensing Occupations, Morris M. Kleiner, 2006, Table 7.3, for findings that show price increases but few quality increases of licensed occupations).
Any suggestions for good audiobooks to listen to on my commute? A more precise formulation of this question is: does anyone have suggestions for good books that have a purchasable audio recording? Bonus points if it’s available on Audible. I am looking for non-fiction/history over fiction. My primary enjoyment from fiction is aesthetic, so I like to read it in print so I can re-read sentences and ponder passages at my leisure.
There is an obvious tradeoff between quality and popularity, so many books of high quality do not get converted to audio format because they won’t sell, while the Malcolm Gladwells of the world are ubiquitous.
I go through periods of listening to stuff while I walk the dog at night. The Harry Potter series on audiobook was the one I enjoyed in that format the most as I had read all the books and could zone in/out without missing much. Of the non fiction I liked Sea of Glory and Anti-fragile.
I just finished listening to Skin in the Game, Taleb’s latest, and enjoyed it somewhat. Not as good as Anti-Fragile, nor as earth-shattering as Fooled By Randomness was at the time I read it, but better than The Black Swan. I’d recommend it if you liked Anti-Fragile at all, though it covers much of the same ground.
Not “books” per se, but the Great Courses series might be a good place to start. I enjoyed the “Great Trials of the 20th Century” lectures delivered by Alan Dershowitz. (Got it out of the library, no clue what website it’s on.) Once I finished that I just started burning podcasts to mp3 CDs and that’s gone quite well.
Yes, I’ve listened to a couple of Great Courses for last couple of months. My commute home is about 1/2 hours, and most of the lectures are also that long.
Although it is also true that I haven’t been real pleased with the two courses I bought for my commute: Individual Personality and the Wisdom of History. I’ve been more impressed by the courses I’ve watched with my wife at home: Barbarian Invaders from the Steppes and Pompeii. But both of those good courses included a lot of visuals, and I’ve been picking less visual courses for my commute. Great Courses does have a lot of straight history courses — I would recommend picking one of them. Their regular prices are in the hundreds of dollars, but they have constant sales, so I always spend less than $100.
I’ve had decent luck finding the great courses at used book stores (at least those that have an audio book section).
Many of the Great Courses are also on Audible, so you can use a credit for the course making them 15$/each if I remember right? Plus you keep the course even if you cancel the membership. Unless you’re opposed to Amazon, this has been my favorite way of getting audiobooks or courses other than the occasional used CD set.
I’d recommend The Art of Negotiating the Best Deal from The Great Courses. If everyone took this course the world would be a much better place.
Have you considered podcasts? Some of them have lots of very slow chatting and ‘personalities’ that I for one find annoying, but e.g. the works of Mike Duncan are basically good, thorough overviews of interesting historical periods, with a critical historical eye rather than the ‘I read one book and will now regurgitate it’ thing. His first one is a History of Rome which runs from a brief overview of the semi-mythical founding to the fall of the West, then Revolutions covers what it sounds like it does: a series of revolutions, civil wars, wars of independence etc. From memory the series covers the English Civil War, the American War of Independence, the first French Revolution (or set of revolutions: 1789 to Napoleon), the revolutions in Spanish America, the Haitian revolution and is now on the revolutions of 1848.
Rome as his first work probably starts slightly weaker but not hugely so.
Most of this is free on various podcast providers.
I also like the History of England by David Crowther, which is a similar thing though the tone is more amateur (gets his kids to act out certain dramatic scenes) and the authorial voice is more present (random little references to Python, Douglas Adams and Simon and Garfunkel coming through but not by any means taking over).
I’m all for podcasts. I’ve found it difficult to find ones that are not characterized by some combination of a) poor interviews, b) This American Life-esque Blue Tribe bait, or c) two (or more) bros spending 75% of their time making the same stale jokes while evading the ostensible topic of their show.
I’ll check out Mike Duncan’s Rome series. Thanks.
I second the recommendation of Duncan’s work. Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History is very different but also recommended.
For something completely different, I really like Bill Burr’s Monday Morning PodCast as well.
Yeah: I nearly went off podcasts because of all those things. Spending 5 minutes talking about the fact they’re going to talk about something and doing the ‘haha, Bob here is really ditzy’ routine. But there’s some gold in the dross.
Also like Hardcore History: that’s far more (melo)dramatic which has its pluses and minuses where Duncan is pretty detached and academic, in an accessible sort of way. Also Dan Carlin editorialises more and does more of the talking directly to the listener.
I never got the impression that podcasts were like that, but then all the ones I listen to have a specific topic that they focus on. Security Now is a great one.
Security Now was enjoyable for me until they tried to discuss some technical bit of crypto (memory-hard functions) I understood well. Then I kinda lost interest.
I don’t know if this is what you’re alluding to, but I think Joe Rogan’s podcast is really good, and it’s usually only like 2-3% stale jokes. Less than that on a really good episode. I highly recommend the one where he interviews David Goggins.
It’s a common format; NPRs “Car Talk” may have been the archetype.
Car talk spent about 10% of the show talking about cars, 10% of the show making cheesy jokes, and 80% of the show laughing maniacally at their own cheesy jokes
Yes, and Car Talk was still excellent. The only thing on NPR I would listen to.
BTW: @The Nybbler: Car Talk was a typical call-in show format, very different from Joe Rogan’s extended interview format.
I don’t know about excellent, but it did manage to hold my interest despite not caring much about cars.
Listening to podcasts just to feel like you are hanging out with a likable group of pals has an appeal; I think that’s why I enjoyed the Fear the Boot gaming podcast and the Dice Tower top ten youtube shows.
I meant that “Car Talk” definitely fit “two (or more) bros spending 75% of their time making the same stale jokes while evading the ostensible topic of their show”, not that Joe Rogan was like “Car Talk”.
There is a lot of good stuff on librivox for free (legally).
What on librivox did you like? Everything I’ve tried to listen to on there is absolutely terrible.
Presumably you are talking about recording/reading quality. Two readers I like a lot are Karen Savage and a guy who goes by Expatriate.
Tadhg Hynes generally does pretty good recordings; he’s done several Hardy and Dickens novels, along with a few others.
I am currently listening to “The Spell of the Sensuous”, by David Abram, and quite enjoying it.
Have you checked out your local library? Most have a pretty good assortment of audiobooks, usually available to download through an app like Overdrive Media. I’ll also second LibriVox; the trick I think is to find good readers and go through their recordings; many of the readers/recordings are too poor quality to listen to.
Some universities, like Yale, have published recordings of their lectures; the audio quality is generally good, and there’s a wide range of topics.
I listen to a lot of history from audible, and all of these are available there. I got to a good many of them through my library instead, so I’d recommend checking with yours first. Your library likely has an associated app which you can use to browse and download audio books. Limited selection, but free. I should also preface by saying that I believe these are what are typically referred to as pop history.
The Thirty Years War by Wedgwood
A Great and Terrible King and The Norman Conquest from Marc Morris
The Plantagenets and the Wars of the Roses by Dan Jones
The History of England Series by Peter Ackroyd (Foundation, Tudors, Rebellion, Revolution)
The Dark Ages by Charles Oman
The Medici by Paul Stathern
Greatest Knight by Thomas Asbridge
The Pirate Queen by Susan Ronald
Champlain’s Dream by David Fischer
Francis I by Leonie Frieda
Catherine the Great by Robert Massie
Winter King by Thomas Penn
Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff
American Revolutions by Alan Taylor
Napoleon by Andrew Roberts
John Adams by David McCullough
Thomas Jefferson and the Art of Power by Jon Meacham
You have a longer attention span than me.
Maybe. Many of these are really engaging writers, and a good reader can make this material really sing. If your attention span is short and you’re interested in these sorts of things, I’d try the Ackroyd, McCullough, or Oman.
I like Dawkins’ audiobooks. He and his wife narrated his audiobooks together, and they’re pretty good. I’ve listened to The Selfish Gene, and I’ve listened to The Ancestor’s Tale a bunch of times.
I also liked The Story of Earth, and A Short History of Nearly Everything. The Story of Earth was nice to listen to as I was falling asleep. Geology is so relaxing. There’s no violence or conflict or anything like that–just rocks sitting around for billions of years.
Old but unfortunately still relevant: Malcolm Gladwell on school shootings as slow motion riots
One of the things I’ve struggled with in the seeming epidemic of school shootings is “what has changed”? Guns, violent media, all the usual suspects all existed prior to Columbine, and they exist in places other than the US. The “slow riot” theory seems like a plausible explanation for “what changed”.
Unfortunately it doesn’t really suggest a solution – it’s not clear how we could forcibly remove the school shooter archetype from the public psyche.
Never seen this before. Like it, and almost wholly agree.
Gladwell doesn’t offer it, but many others have: Stop publicizing and promoting the perpetrators. Treat them like TV crews treat streakers at football games. People can’t emulate Eric Harris if they don’t know who he is. The 100th person doesn’t pick up the rock if he doesn’t see the other 99.
I know I sound like a real E D G E Y B O Y E saying this, but… why would they? School shootings bring in the views, they bring in the votes, and rationally speaking the chances of anyone you care about getting hurt are less than the chances of them randomly dropping dead from a blood clot. Unless someone can convince enough people that this is what we need to do that not cooperating starts to make you look bad enough to hurt ratings and/or stock prices, the media is going to keep giving shooters and terrorists what they want and the people at ground-level will keep convincing themselves that they’re just doing their jobs.
If it weren’t for FCC rules they’d probably zoom right in on streakers. “YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED [SHOCKING] [NUDITY]!!!!”
I believe there are guidelines from the CDC (mostly-followed by the big media players) about reporting on suicide. I wish something similar would happen w.r.t. mass-shooters.
In an ideal world, they’d be buried in an unmarked grave and their name would never be spoken again.
What if we swap the FCC rules about what can be broadcast?
Nudity stories on streakers allowed; school shooting stories out.
On a vaguely related note, how long do guys think you think all these broadcast censorship rules are gonna hold out? Does anyone actually want them anymore?
I don’t have a good sampling of the actual demographics who watch TV in my friend group.
I think the overall zeitgeist is pretty puritanical in some ways though. The feminists of now (well the ones who seem to be winning) don’t seem sex positive.
Maybe Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, etc. lessen the pressure on broadcast censorship because there are lots of good alternatives.
I don’t think this is an “afraid of FCC nudity rules” issue. They behave the exact same way for anyone who runs out onto the field, nudity or non. Perhaps the sports leagues require or pressure them into doing this, I don’t know.
But it’s a very conscious decision to intentionally avoid giving these people any publicity, because that’s exactly what they want.
I don’t know if it’s worked or not, but they’ve all seemingly agreed to do this.
Well, I guess if you encourage every dickbag who runs out on to the field you’re never gonna get any football done and folks’ll get bored.
(but of course that means they all know damn well that publicizing bad behavior encourages it…)
Regarding puritanism, it seems like the U.S. at least has managed to find the worst of both worlds. I’ve seen people get genuinely offended by the idea of someone else waiting for marriage. Everyone’s supposed to loudly proclaim about all the meaningless casual sex they’re having but we’re still utterly disgusted by the act itself or the prospect of enjoying it. Women who aren’t promiscuous are considered prudes but women who are are still considered sluts.
Maybe that’s it; we’re all expected to be publicly sexually open but you’re never supposed to admit that you’re getting anything out of it. 😛
Because they want to be moral? The media seem to make other choices for moralistic reasons, so why not here?
Furthermore, this used to be fairly common. In school, a classmate was murdered along with the rest of her family in a murder-suicide, but this was kept out of the news.
1. Moloch – same reason they can’t seem to Google things before they talk about them on air, because you know the other two aren’t going to bother and no-one’s gonna tune in if you’re just playing the same shit they saw yesterday on a different channel. Similarly, if you’re talking about the same celebrity gossip as yesterday while everyone else is talking about that super cool school shooting (he was probably a [DISFAVORED GROUP]! evidence at 11 – but first, Brawndo, it’s what plants crave!) the day of, no-one is gonna tune in.
2. Individual morality doesn’t seem to matter much when everyone around you is already doing something. People will convince themselves that what they’re doing is okay. See: every nasty thing a company, group, government, or movement has ever done.
3. They think using mass shootings to push for gun control is the moral thing to do.
Even if you can get the major players to corporate, I don’t think you can keep the killers secret from the Internet. Note how much the main subject of Gladwell’s article used YouTube to document his experiments, and presumably researched other killers and bomb making techniques.
It would probably help, but it would take a long time to kill the meme.
It would take some time, sure.
But the more obscure you make it, the threshold of fame and such becomes higher.
I’m not sure it’s an immediate and complete solution. And whatever replaces it in the cultural space of “the worst thing a young person can possibly do” might somehow be even worse.
But I think it would help.
My personal rule is that I try to name mass-shooters by location, but not by their name. The Parkland nutcase, the Aurora wacko, the Pulse crazy, etc. I don’t have any power or much reach in the big wide world, but I don’t want to help spread an evil meme.
That is a good rule, and I will try to start using it.
I made a long response here, but I think I ran into a banned word or something.
To briefly summarize, I’m suggesting a model wherein first, the general public (including a critical mass of both red AND blue tribes) becomes convinced that preventing publicity for mass shooters is the most effective way to significantly reduce mass shootings.
After that, media outlets will self-censor. Because giving publicity will mean they are, in the eyes of the public, aiding and abetting mass murder. The threat of implicit boycott would be huge.
This already happens today. No anywhere-close-to-mainstream media outlet is willing to interview, say, David Duke. Is it because they think the ratings would be really bad? No – it’s because they’re afraid of being smeared as “giving a platform to nazis.” The same thing could happen here.
Sure, infowars might still cover them or whatever. So what? If we think fame is a driver of behavior, and if we can reduce their fame by 90%, then maybe we reduce the behavior by 90%. It’s not 100%, but I’d still take it!
There’s an obvious connection to our previous discussions about ideas and facts and speakers being ruled out-of-bounds on social effects grounds.
And this more broadly connects to the idea of stochastic terrorism, which is basically inciting the occasional nutcase to do some horrible thing.
Another connection is to hate hoaxes, which Sailer discusses a lot–basically, when there was a big wave of media coverage of antisemetic bomb threats and hate crimes, we saw a lot of made-up hate crimes by messed up kids trying to get attention, and a fair number of jackasses spray painting swastikas on someone’s locker or garage door because they knew it would get everyone really upset. There were also some crazy people (particularly one crazy guy in Israel) who were doing a bunch of these hoaxes for some crazy reason of their own. I suspect that the idea and coverage of the hate crimes/hoaxes encouraged the stupid, the crazy, and the assholes to try some of their own.
Just thinking in terms of right and wrong, I think it’s better not to offer people free publicity for their evil actions. I think it’s a pretty bad idea to give terrorists, mass shooters, masked violent protesters busting heads at political rallies, and people just trying to stir up outrage a lot of attention, and especially bad when they get attention of a kind that’s appealing to them or meets their personal or political goals. I think this rewards evil behavior. I think it probably also encourages copycat behavior. (I also think our current media environment maxes out that kind of coverage.)
Further, I think society as a whole is built on people modeling themselves after other people they see in person or in media, whom they see as high-status and representing them. And over time, we build up cultural roles that people tend to fill when they’re trying to figure out how they should act, and especially in times of crisis. To more-or-less quote Greg Cochran, in the US, despondent men with nothing left to lose don’t run amok with a bloody kris, they go postal with a Glock. We’ve established this pattern, and it’s there in a lot of peoples’ minds, sort of like the “eating your gun” pattern is established for suicides. As we establish these patterns/roles, we get people who start identifying themselves in them, and following them. I strongly suspect that troubled young people in their teens and early 20s are by far the most susceptible to this sort of thing–at 16, you’re kinda looking around for what role fits you, since the previously reasonable kid role doesn’t work anymore, and your parents’ lives and choices look incomprehensible and boring.
My intuition is that the emotional appeal and the modeling the actions and role is probably much more important than the factual discussion. That is, I think very few people are going to be driven to bash trans people by Jordan Peterson making some oddball argument involving lobsters and Jung to explain why he doesn’t want to have to call anyone “they.” But videos of people going around bashing trans people, giving the criminals lots of coverage and valorizing them and making them into a big deal, that’s probably a lot more likely to lead somewhere bad.
 Probably something similar is happening w.r.t. LGBT identities–lots of kids who 30 years ago wouldn’t even have had a mental slot for “I’m a guy but sometimes I feel more like a girl, but I still want to sleep with girls mostly, though I’m kinda romantically attracted to boys now and then” now have a cultural pattern and a label and a role for that.
I don’t think you could keep the killers secret from the Internet, nor should you try. But a fair number of these people feed on fear and seeing their name in lights, and simply not putting them on everybody’s TV on a repeating-every-thirty-minutes video would do a lot to cut down on their exposure. Then, people would have to put some effort into finding out who they are, and a lot of people wouldn’t.
The media already has an agreement in place (tacit, I think): don’t publish the names of rape victims. I could find out the name of Kobe Bryant’s accuser in a minute through Google, sure, but I’ve never cared enough to bother and I think the majority of people are the same. I think that they could easily simply extend this rape-victim-name agreement to cover the perpetrators of mass shootings.
I think the reason for this is that they don’t want to believe that they’ve got a hand in the mass shootings, and therefore they don’t want to voluntarily put (they think) useless restrictions on themselves. In my more cynical moments, I think they know damn well they’re part of the problem, but they want more dead kids to serve their political (gun control) ends.
I would suggest turning school into something that doesn’t inspire students to suicidal rioting, and if people aren’t willing to do that I might find myself more skeptical of their motives than I am of the rioting students.
One of the major themes of the article was that shooters do not necessarily have particularly poor experiences in school.
That theme depends heavily on David LaDue, who conspicuously did not shoot anyone and who even Gladwell is skeptical would have shot anyone. The mental state of the actual shooters gets relatively little discussion, and their environments only superficial mention.
I was never bullied by another student, got decent grades, and still had a sucicide-inducingly poor experience in school. The “normal” school experience is still plenty bad.
The article focuses on LaRue, but he’s not the only (in his case “attempted”) mass shooter who didn’t fit a bullied loner stereotype.
In any case if your preferred cause is “school sucks”, what is uniquely sucky about American middle class suburban mostly white schools in the last 25 years that causes the riot to center there?
A lot of mental health issues will crop up in teens / young adults, and even neurotypical teens are moody and lacking in perspective, so it’s not surprising that the population is uniquely prone to lashing out, but it’s not clear what about this particular set of schools is so bad.
In your poor urban and poor rural schools, if you find school to be intolerable you just don’t show up. Nobody’s going to make too much of an attempt to make you, and at least in the urban ones outside Washington D.C., you’ll graduate anyway. In the middle-to-upper class suburban schools, you’ve got serious pressure against both habitual truancy and against dropping out. Adults care that you go to school and even get good grades; they don’t care that you find the experience to be intolerable.
This may explain the increase of occurrence in time as well, but I’m less convinced of that.
I believe that the prevalence of anxiety dreams about school demonstrates that there’s something wrong with school.
If it is healthy/good for people to be challenged & people get anxiety dreams about being challenged, then your conclusion may be wrong*.
* Which doesn’t mean that there is nothing wrong with school, but your evidence doesn’t necessarily show a wrongness.
People don’t seem to have as many anxiety dreams about other challenges. Or are there sports anxiety dreams, and I haven’t been hearing about them?
What was uniquely sucky about Los Angeles the day after the Rodney King riots started, or the Watts riots a generation earlier, compared to the day before? Riots need to start somewhere, somewhen, and part of what Gladwell is talking about is the capriciousness of that process.
But, almost certainly Something is Wrong in modern schools, and “bullied loner” isn’t the only possible manifestation of that hellish, soul-sucking experience. While I have fortunately avoided public schools in the past quarter-century, I do believe that is about the timeframe we are talking about. Partly because of the increasing “optimization” of middle-class schools as test-prep factory farms with a side order of approved extracurriculars, so as to send students to the Best Colleges(tm) that are seen as the only alternative to perpetual economic loserdom. Partly because of the emphasis on one-size-fits-none education with a minimum of tracking, that nobody be wrongfully excluded from that path to the Best Colleges.
Won’t those all be different, based on what sport one does?
School is a common experience, so it can look like that is far more common, when other anxiety dreams are merely more diverse.
It would still be possible to have dreams about being expected to play a high stakes game in an unfamiliar sport, but I’ve never heard of anyone having that one.
Most people probably don’t really have high stakes in their sports.
Failure at school can mean that your future is derailed. That only happens in sports if sports is your career, which is only true for a fraction of society.
I think a lot of high school athletes are counting on sports to be their ticket into college, even if it is in a division that will never result in pro play.
The rise of school shooting is correlated with the increase in mass shootings in general so I don’t think focusing on schools will help that much.
I’m curious about the extent to which mandatory school attendance and laws against dropping out of school contribute to school shootings. (I have no idea whether they do or not, I just wonder if there’s data on that.)
If anything I suspect that mandatory attendance would prevent extreme violent incidents by adolescents. If it weren’t mandatory, kids with poor parental oversight might stop going, stop socializing with their peers, etc. which seems like a serious risk factor for this.
School shootings aren’t general bad social behavior, they are extreme and probably highly specific bad behavior.
The idea isn’t to make the chickens _happy_, the idea is to trim their beaks and claws so they don’t ruin the other meat.
John – improving schools is one of those things that would be (a) worth doing even if it had no effect on school shootings, and which is (b) really hard under current constraints.
How does this dumb argument get so much traction here?
Do people really think that high school shooters are driven by the prospect of becoming infamous in the eyes of great aunt Sally? I don’t; I think they care most about fame or infamy in the eyes of their peers. And what is the entirely predictable effect of Streisanding all biographical details of any shooters other than ensuring that teenagers pore over and exaggerate those details endlessly on social media?
AFAIK, the copycat effect after media attention has a lot of evidence for it.
In general, I would argue that people tend to judge the fame or infamy of events that are so rare that they don’t personally experience, by the media. How else could they do so?
You can’t judge the effect of a news ban this way. You can’t institute such a ban as a conspiracy so that most people don’t know there is one — everyone would be aware that there was an agreement not to cover such events in the media.
Judging by level of media coverage is normally reasonable because the media tends to cover what people are interested in. People will talk privately — and extensively — about interesting things the news has agreed not to cover. The ultimate effect of a ban would be to increase the mystique of school shooters among people of the same age. “Here are the details about the guy no one is allowed to talk about.”
There is no reason to keep it a secret. The goal is to keep the classmates of the kids from talking about this too much and for potential perpetrators to get a sense of how they will be regarded from the media attention.
Keep in mind that there are beliefs and aliefs. You can change behavior by changing aliefs, even if the rational assessment doesn’t change. After all, people are not rational.
Potential perpetrators will get that sense from the way that other students at their school talk about a shooting at another school. Those students are not going to obey a media blackout. And they have access to social networks that ultimately include other students who have information about the actual perpetrator.
Not so much as they are driven by the temptation to follow the script. I’m not sure how much scientific study there is of it but it does seem like most people are following cultural common-knowledge-y “scripts” that they define themselves by and behave according to. Unfortunately we’ve now got this “school shooter” script that keeps getting amplified that people are getting caught up in.
Actually, here’s a thought: has the number of people who become serial killers gone up or down over time? That was another really popular cultural script a generation or two ago. I dunno if the news talks about them more or less. The story of the autistic guy with the explosives sounds an awful lot like the “early life of a serial killer” stories from the eighties. If the number of people becoming serial killers doesn’t correlate with the amount of media attention on serial killers (probably lagging behind it about fifteen years?) then that’d be solid evidence against this theory.
Yeah, this. Nobody commits suicide in the hopes that great aunt Sally will see them on the news, but the copycat effect arising from media coverage of suicides is well-established. People build internal narratives for themselves out of the narratives they see in the world around them.
How would we decide who’s right, here? I mean, there’s a plausible theory-of-mind of mass shooters that says that changing the style of reporting on mass-shootings would make them less common, and another plausible theory of mind of mass shooters that says it wouldn’t make any difference.
One place I can imagine looking is for whether mass shootings are associated in time–like, if the probability of a mass shooting this week is increased when there was a very heavily media-covered mass-shooting last week. I’ve seen the claim that this is true (among other places, in Cialdini’s amazingly good book _Influence_), but I don’t know of any studies on this, though I expect they’re there.
Another place we could look would be to do case-control studies on mass-shooters, trying to untangle whether they had much higher consumption of mass-shooting media coverage than other people.
“Hey, look, my censorship theory could be right. And I’m sure my thinking it’s probably right has nothing to do with the fact that I would super-prefer a world in which no one was supposed talk about gun violence in schools (and maybe, eventually, gun violence in general?) because that might eventually lead to gun control. That feature of this proposal is a total coincidence. It has nothing to do with how it just keeps popping up unexamined as if handed down from the Solutions God.
And trust me, it really isn’t about the prospect, if we can convince everyone of this regardless of whether it actually works, of telling someone that does bring it up in conversation anyway ‘No, you’re the real cause of gun violence, not guns.’, although that would be just … delicious.”
I think trying to decide whether some factual claim is true by weighing its likely political or social consequences is a good way of sabotaging your brain.
Instead, I’d rather treat them independently. First, is there a copycat effect in mass shootings (terrorism, hate hoaxes and hate crimes, suicides, etc.)? Second, how should we deal with it. Our brains just barely can do logic as it is–we’re a lot better off addressing those questions separately.
It seems likely that there is a copycat effect in mass shootings. It also seems likely that truly suppressing information about mass shootings would require social control more comprehensive than 80s China. (How many politically disaffected Chinese people do you suppose didn’t find out the basic facts about the Tiananmen protests, for example?) That is, a media only solution is just obviously insufficient.
No it wouldn’t. It would require approximately the same amount of “social control” as it did to get Delta airlines to stop offering discounts to NRA members.
What are you even saying right now? What did getting Delta to do that accomplish other than some signalling in a polarized political environment? Whose mind changed about anything?
An argument about social control and gay acceptance has at least some of the ingredients for plausibility. But gun stuff in the U.S.? Whose mind has changed about any of that stuff recently?
That it is possible to enact social change at the corporate level, even when doing so might seem to fly in the face of what we currently believe to be the short-term profit maximizing alternative.
The CEO/Board of Directors of Delta Airlines, that’s who. The anti-gun (or more specifically, anti-NRA) movement doesn’t have critical mass yet. Or, more specifically, it only has critical mass in one tribe and is virulently opposed by the other.
You’re right though that “social issues” might be a better example. Totalitarian, government-imposed social control was not required to create a world every corporation flies Pride flags, and claiming that homosexuality is a moral abomination is likely to get you fired (and not just from Google, but from Shell and from Ford and from Coca-Cola). Even though firing otherwise qualified employees is costly and inconvenient and probably harms your overall talent pool and recruitment ability.
So how did we get there? By having enough of the public on both sides believe that such behavior is completely and totally unacceptable.
If we can convince the general public, without it being a strictly partisan divide, that publicizing mass murderers helps cause further mass murder, then companies will start treating “talking about mass murders” the way they currently treat “saying that homosexuality is morally wrong.” No heavy handed government action required.
As I’ve been arguing, a tacit ban on publicity would not be remotely sufficient. The obvious perpetrator-sized hole in the coverage would just spark interest on the level of individuals, particularly if the murder was in a school and we’re talking about kids in schools.
So instead you would need a massive social shift on an order much larger than even the shift on gay acceptance, which primarily has to do with public speech. I don’t need to stray from the websites I normally visit to see this or that anonymous person complain about “sodomy parades” being “shoved down [their] throats”. It’s not like the sentiment is gone, it’s just not “polite” anymore.
Not if individuals resolve to not be interested in the shooter’s name, biographical details, and ideology.
I’m not interested in those things. So it’s clearly not impossible.
If people truly believe that spreading this information makes the mass murder of children more likely, they can presumably summon the willpower to place their curiosity aside.
A lot of people believe that the wide availability of guns makes the mass murder of children more likely, but gun rights advocates are not moved by that view.
On a practical level, how do you see this change working? Say that 97% of people follow along but there isn’t much change in the level of violence. Do we just yell more at the remaining 3%? Isn’t it just as plausible that that yelling would itself have the undesired effect?
Or does none of this matter because a tacit ban on discussion of violence is the desired end-state regardless?
The problem here is the tribal split. It’s probably something like 90% of blue tribe believing gun control is the solution, and 10% of red tribe believing it would help. That just turns it into a political football, which doesn’t work.
You don’t need 97%. Once you start approaching 50% in both tribes, the media will just do it. Because they’d be terrified not to. Those who are still super interested have to go to infowars or some crazy youtube channel, and that’s fine.
Back and forth, back and forth.
There’s no way to keep sufficiently interested people from finding out details of mass shooters’ or suicides’ actions. What you can imagine, though, is not having every mass shooting lead to a week of intensive coverage on every TV channel involving scary pictures of the murderer, excerpts from his manifesto, footage of people lying dead on the ground, audio recordings of his shooting spree with the screams of his victims audible over the gunshots, etc. This seems doable.
Will this decrease the frequency of mass shootings? I don’t know. There seems to be some reason to think so, but it’s also possible that the kind of people who decide to become mass-shooters will just get obsessed with this stuff and find all the slightly-harder-to-find detailed footage and audio recordings and manifestoes and such.
It’s quite possible that there’s a distinction between “information about killer is available, if you go looking for it” and “killer is a national superstar for a month”. There’s a lot of room between “media is prevented from talking about mass shootings at all” and “national media outlets make a gentleman’s agreement to not sensationalize the perpetrators of mass shootings”
Unlike suicide, mass-shootings, especially while ongoing are of legitimate interest to the members of the community in which they happen. Beyond the immediately affected and their next of kin, it’s simply going to be the talk of town for the forseeable future and so there’s a legitimate need to know (on some general level) even for people with no personal connection to anyone involved. (This doesn’t excuse the sensationalism, but not-reporting on it is impossible under any reasonable definition of what journalism should be about.)
Suicides OTOH usually only affect those who knew the victim. (And here again, if it’s public enough, it’s news.)
No-one’s saying to ban reporting on it; they say to ban discussion of the guy who did it to stop the bad memes from spreading. Anyway, being the “talk of the town” wherever you live is a completely different thing from having your face and life story on the TV every day for a month.
Isn’t “being on TV” on our culture’s list of “things everyone wants” up there with money and cookies?
I thought I’d supplied the general pattern but apparently I failed.
‘Who is/was that person’ will be something the afflicted and their next of kin will be eager to understand. It will be discussed in the community and hence there’s a journalistic obligation to report and set the record. This is as basic as concerned parents (who may not themselves have kids at the relevant school) demanding a response from the police and the school/venue why it wasn’t possible to stop the person(s) beforehand.
(Or the much simpler problem of the inability to report about a big, public event without saying anything specific about the person(s) responsible.)
The same does not apply to suicides: The group of people afflicted is much smaller and there is no public interest that outweights the potential damage.
So, local and regional reporting on the event is good journalistic practice and self-censoring by the media (for the greater good) would be met with resistance, avoidance and incomprehension on that level. Then, on top of that, we have to add some leeway for freedom of the press and different opinions on what kind of reporting and what subject matters are appropriate and after that step the only extension of the code of journalistic ethics we can agree on is your ‘face and life story on [national] TV every day for a month.’ I think it would be good to have ethics rules against that. But anything more restrictive very soon runs up against legitimate journalistic responsibilities and functions vital to the communities affected in a way that is not true for reports on suicide.
Also, at this point, having mentioned the topic several times, I fell compelled to add:
If you or someone you know has had thoughts of harming themselves or taking their own life, get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) provides 24/7, free, confidential support for people in distress
Here is an article about this idea from several years ago, written by Zeynep Tufekci (a very smart sociologist who spends a lot of time thinking about social media). Recommendations for how to report suicide are here.
[ETA] Or, if you prefer, the Disturbed song about the same topic.
@brmic – you’re basically explaining why mass shootings are so tempting to talk about, which is part of what makes them such a successful meme.
But just because the people will eat up gossip and yellow journalism doesn’t require the major national media outlets to provide it. Is interviewing everyone who ever talked to the kid and rampantly speculating about his motivations all day every day for a couple weeks really “responsible journalism”?
The news and information will eventually leak out of course, but at least for now, a major TV media semi-blackout would still cut down significantly on the fame a shooter could hope to achieve.
How many people know the name of that “incel killer”. Even without knowing his name, it had about the same effect as any mass shooting.
I think Tufekci’s suggestions are interesting, mostly unworkable and their effectiveness is just guesswork. They’re also hard to engage with, because they’re only ‘fodder for a conversation’ which is a bit of a nothingburger from an expert. The phenomenon is not new, so I expect experts to offer concrete steps, explain what they believe the likely results will be, and how and why these results are worth the tradeoff.
I’ve explained how the situation fundamentally is not similar to suicides from a media perspective and hence the gentleperson’s agreement to no publish suicides is not applicable.
I understand and share the goal of not having 24h coverage of every shooting (and terrorist attack), of less sensationalism overall. But I also know that for any shooting a local reporter will be there in front of a rolling camera, and they’ll be doing 24h live locally because that’s what the community wants. At that point a regional/national TV station will _correctly_ reason, that they have a more competent and capable reporter and camerman available who can do a better job of reporting on this. At which point, there’ll be a third station who also reasonably argues they can do a better job, at which point there’ll be 3 streams of 24h live coverage available and the argument for restrictions on everyone else becomes really thin.
Add to this, that the same applies to terrorism, and you’ll get people (on the right) very, very, strident about the relevance of the perpetrators (religious) background and how it would be awful censorship to not report on it and you’ll see that it’s absolutely not trivial to demand a ban on name and personal background of the shooter.
It’s really, really complicated and the stuff where you could get people to agree to self-censoring is so limited that the effectivenss is highly doubtful. By all means, let’s try, but let’s not expect much success.
For what it is worth: I find that stories of citizens defending themselves with guns can be the talk of the town for a day, but those stories never get nationwide attention.
Yet any story of a mass shooting gets nationwide attention.
It appears that there are different levels of news coverage for different kinds of stories involving shootings.
Is there some way to scale back the nationwide, breaking-news story coverage of school shootings? A school shooting is horrific, but most of the people who need-to-know immediately are in the local area.
For comparison: in the 1920s, a gangland execution on St. Valentine’s Day in Chicago became the symbol of the power of organized crime, and a leading news story nationwide. In the same decade, an enraged man used dynamite to trigger the largest mass-casualty-incident at a school in the history of the United States. (Bombing of a school in Bath Township, Michigan.) To my knowledge, this second event did not become a nationwide news story in the way that the Columbine shooting did.
Is there some way that the news of a school shooting in Florida can be reported in Florida, but not become the Most Important News Event Of the Week for the entire United States?
“A school shooting is horrific, but most of the people who need-to-know immediately are in the local area.”
Have there been (m)any LOCAL copycat mass shootings? Could be that nationwide fame plus personal detachment from the tragic aspects that the locals would feel is a uniquely bad combination.
I think it’s fairly common (like it happens once or twice a year in a medium-sized urban area) for men to shoot their ex-wife, her new boyfriend, and their kids. This kind of mass-shooting is rarely considered national news, but often makes the local news.
I’m not sure how common it is, and this is of course just a single anecdotal example, but when I was in high school there was a shooting at one of the other high schools in our district, and then one a couple weeks later at the high school I attended.
Have to keep in mind base rates. If a mass shooting is attempted a few times a year nationwide, that suggests you wouldn’t see multiple in the same town (barring some causal factors) within decades of each other.
Hmm, I think (hope) that exaggerates a bit? I can think of one within the last several years in my vicinity.
> for men to shoot their ex-wife, her new boyfriend, and their kids
As someone who’s been looking for a girlfriend for going on 15 years now, I’ve lost sympathy for this sort of case. The woman could have chosen a higher-quality man to have kids with.
(I’m excluding developing brain disorders like tumors, but those rarely seem to be involved in abuse cases)
Garrett, do you have sympathy for the children?
It’s by no means clear to me that this particular rare and spectacularly awful form of low-qualityness is connected to more mundane and easier to detect forms of low-qualityness. I would not expect experts (insofar as there are any), much less ordinary people, to do a good job of predicting in advance which prospective partners might murder them and their children after a divorce or break-up.
Besides which, and in addition to Nancy’s observation about the total innocence of the children in the matter, being not-especially-great at choosing partners does not strike me as a sin meritorious of death.
being not-especially-great at choosing partners does not strike me as a sin meritorious of death.
The reality of evolutionary pressures in a sexually reproducing species disagrees with you. Being bad at that kind of choosing either kills you, or it kills your children, which from it’s point of view, is the same thing.
It’s like jaywalking. Morally the worst consequences of the action are proportional or would deserve them meted out in retribution, but they are natural consequences and somewhat predictable (it’s hard to know who will turn violent, but to the extent you know someone is, you know you have increased risk by being with them.)
Really? You think shy accountants who spend their weekends playing video games are just as likely to become wife beaters and child abusers as heavily tattooed ex-con unemployed guys with fancy tricked-out motorcycles?
Fair enough–over human history, I’m sure poor evaluation of mates has been the ruin of many a poor girl, and that’s true today. But I can still find some sympathy for the woman who maybe should have known better (only she’s not all that bright and after they had a kid together she felt like having him stick around was better than nothing), and whose bad judgment plus a big dolop of bad luck led to her death at the hands of her ex.
The topic was not wife beaters and child abusers. It was “shoot their ex-wife, her new boyfriend, and their kids [and possibly themself]”.
I would hypothesize that Henrys would get over “I’m leaving you for another man” pretty easily and rebound quickly. The shy accountant is more likely to feel extremely betrayed and that their life is now ruined and like they have nothing to lose on vengeance.
These days, most of the people with fancy tricked-out motorcycles are retired accountants who like to grow their beards long and wear wraparound shades and LARP at being outlaw bikers. As early as the Seventies, Hunter S. Thompson was writing about how the Hell’s Angels were riding cheap bikes in poor repair (because crime doesn’t pay very well), and since then Harleys have only gotten more expensive and the biker demographic’s only gotten older.
Fair point and fair argument.
Although I still believe that if we had statistics on this, the traits that correlate with spousal abuse would correlate pretty strongly with spousal murder as well.
I have a hard time believing spousal murder is completely and entirely random, with “no way to tell”
My guess is it’s probably a bit like mass-shootings at schools and workplaces. It’s probably extremely hard to predict which person will snap and go postal at your workplace, but among the people who do snap and go postal, you will likely find a lot of folks that everyone was kind-of creeped out by, or that various people had kicked out of their club/store/class, warned the cops about, actively decided to avoid because they seemed like someone who might snap and kill someone, etc.
It’s the same basic dynamic as predicting who’s going to be a terrorist. There are warning signs you can look for, but P(terrorist | warning sign) is still going to be really, really small. (Which is why most of the people on watchlists will never do anything.) When the thing you’re trying to predict is super-rare, then even a nice, low false positive rate like 1/1000 still swamps you with false positives.
> Nancy Lebovitz: Garrett, do you have sympathy for the children?
That’s a question I struggle with. On one hand, the children themselves did not create the situation. And as independent thinking beings, they have their own rights which should be defended and protected. This kind of issue makes me sad.
On the other hand, in the counterfactual universe where the woman didn’t choose that relationship, there wouldn’t have been any such children to murder in the first place. So I apply at lease some of the culpability onto the mother who chooses poorly.
Whether that’s true or not, it doesn’t make the children less innocent victims.
Every time I hear this argument I think of Herostratus.
(OK, actually I think of Herodotus, then I remember that’s wrong, and THEN I think of Herostratus, but I do get to Herostratus).
+1000. I agree 100% with all your comments on this thread, Matt.
Just for a note on how weird the situation is, a Pakistani exchange student was killed in a recent American school shooting.
They have a big problem with political/religious terrorism there, but not with personally motivated shootings.
Do you put honor killings in the terrorism category or the personally motivated category?
Honor killings don’t involve killing random people, and they’re more normalized and not intended to cause political change than terrorism, so I’m guessing they’re a third category.
Probably. Spree killings are pretty weird things.
The idea of utopia was brought up very briefly in a recent open thread. Somebody suggested that all utopias are pretty similar (for example, a socialist’s utopia might not actually look that unlike a libertarian’s utopia). This was pushed back on (“[given fictional utopia] isn’t my idea of utopia, so not all utopias are the same.”)
What utopias do you consider deserving of the name? Which do you think are actually rather abhorrent?
Star Trek? The Culture? The City and the Stars? 1984? Earth as it is right now?
How important is having your material needs and wants satisfied? How important is it to feel free? How important is it to feel superior to other humans? Are things like real risk of harm important for you to feel excited?
Feel free to mention fictional universes I haven’t, or just describe your own, or perhaps take an existing fictional universe and modify it.
Personally I lean towards things like The Culture, where all the productive work is done by machines and humans just have to come up with the best ways to entertain themselves (which the machines can also help with if desired). The fact that humans don’t really “control their own destiny” or whatever doesn’t bother me. If the machines are benevolent enough I’m happy to delegate the important responsibilities to them.
I’m not a big Star Trek fan/buff, so what I say might be wildly off, but I find the Utopian vision of a technologically advanced and happy society that happens to be perpetually at war with a sneaky, violent and dark skinned monolithic race (I know Trek was supposed to be progressive for its time with casting) to be pretty repulsive.
Brave New World is the one that sounds the best of the utopian dystopias.
Agreed. Even despite the author’s obvious slant, I was always sympathetic to the idea that BNW might actually be an upgrade, all things considered, from our current society.
Agreed with the Matt M. Brave New World didn’t strike me as very dystopic to be honest.
If you figure out the world is bullshit and happy drugs, you get shipped to an island with all the intelligent people to freely do pretty much whatever you like as long as you don’t fuck with the world government. Everyone who doesn’t give a shit about how things work or rational consistency or whatever gets soma and orgies.
I think there are many things that recommend a Brave New World over the real world.
That’s interesting what the three of you have said about Brave New World. I haven’t actually read it (nor even a detailed summary) but perhaps I will. See if I agree with you. 🙂
I agree that Brave New World’s society is oddly sympathetic, though I’d still put it under the heading of “dystopia” and not “utopia”.
When I first read it, my reaction was that it was obviously a dystopia – after all, Jul pbhyqa’g gurl whfg znxr rirelbar Nycunf? But then Zhfgncun Zbaq rkcynvaf gung gurl gevrq guvf nyernql nf na rkcrevzrag, naq vg jnf n gbgny snvyher. That impressed me and forced me to consider things in a deeper way. (It’s been a while since I read it, I may have gotten a detail wrong or something)
In the end, though, that society seems like the nightmare scenario from C.S. Lewis’ The Abolition of Man (highly recommended); and since I basically agree with Lewis’ points, Brave New World remains dystopic to me.
[Minor spoilers encoded in case anyone like fion would like to avoid them]
Mond’s story had some internal contradictions that left me unsatisfied, though I think it’s more likely to be because Huxley didn’t think things through than because he was deliberately presenting Mond as being either confused or deceptive. Still, I find Mond more sympathetic than the savage, and that seems to be partly based on Huxley’s intention; the savage was not supposed to be sympathetic. Huxley doesn’t just describe a society with problematic features, he makes all of the in universe critics of the society problematic as well.
Personally, I enjoyed the movie addition (or at least I didn’t notice it if it was in the book) that implied that the system generated Mond-like people, in the form of Bernard, are deliberately created. My headcanon is that this serves the dual purpose of creating new potential leaders, and also creating people with the capacity to identify and correct societal issues.
How about L Neil Smith’s America from _The Probability Broach_? Or, say, Pallas or Ceres or Mars in _Pallas_ and _Ceres_? Those aren’t heaven-on-earth utopias, but they sound like really nice places to live. I’d be very happy to move to either place from my current (pretty good, all things considered) life in this world.
For an uncomfortable but interesting utopia, try Stirling’s _Conquistador_. You and the main viewpoint characters may not agree that it’s very utopian, but the inhabitants mostly seem to think things are very good for them. (And Stirling isn’t too kind to his “utopia.”)
If that’s meant to refer to the Klingons, then note that in TOS they were at cold war with the sneaky violent race for three seasons and six movies. And by TNG that “perpetual” cold war had ended. Most utopias include an aspect of “and this is how we avoid being conquered by non-utopians”, and on that front the Culture is a bunch of genocidal maniacs compared to the Federation.
Also, the Klingons weren’t particularly dark-skinned in TOS.
Technically true, but the insinuation of war seems to be present throughout each and every series. Klingons in TOS, Romulans and Cardassians in TNG, Dominion in DS9…
None of which can really be described as “dark-skinned”- TOS Klingons look like swarthy white people, Romulans look like Vulcans, Cardassians are significantly paler than humans, as are Vorta and adult Jem’Hadar.
The original Klingon look was obviously intended to be reminiscent of the Mongols. Compare John Wayne as Ghenghis Khan with John Calicos as Kor. If anything, Kor is the more Mongol despite the character not being an actual Mongol.
I was hugely influenced by Brave New World in middle school – the idea of a consumer paradise that reduces most people to shallow consumers by design struck me as pretty awful, and I guess it still does.
I suppose the utopias that I like best are the ones with heaven – Blood Music and Diaspora and the like. (Although Blood Music was pretty upsetting at the time too). If I had to choose one, maybe the end of Moore and Gaiman’s Miracleman.
Ok, your criticism of Star Trek is entirely off base. Just about as close to backwards as one can get. Sorry if I seem defensive; I grew up on the show, and while there are lots of good criticisms of it, this isn’t one.
Yes, they start off at war with a dark-skinned race—but the analogy isn’t to black people, as you seem to imply; it’s to Russia and China, the Commies. (Romulans might be more Russia, and Klingons more China; either way, that was the representation.) And from the very beginning, the message was sent that peace was better than war. Rewatch some of the episodes—they’re wary of one another, even hostile; but they usually find a way to sort things out without a fight breaking out, and that’s what the crew of the Enterprise are usually fighting for.
And then eventually, a Klingon joins the crew. And they find new unsavory characters. Take the Ferengi–originally shifty, meretricious characters with exaggerated features motivated only by greed. (An uncharitable gloss on them might be that they’re an anti-Semitic stereotype.) But with time, the Federation builds a relationship with them—and by DS9, there’s a Ferengi crew member on a Federation ship. The Borg seem like nothing but cold and evil, but the Federation finds humanity even in them, with Hugh in TNG and Seven in Voyager. An enduring theme of Star Trek is that initially antagonistic groups overcome their differences, hopefully without combat.
A lot of this happened after TOS, so you might be unconvinced that this theme was there from the beginning. But then, remember that TOS was made in the middle of an actual Cold War. And one of the most politically significant acts of TOS was the simple fact of having Chekov on the bridge. The implication was—the Cold War ended, and there was peace and cooperation; and the Federation came from it. And then, with wars after that, we managed to sort them out as peacefully as possible, and became stronger together with our new allies.
Star Trek started out with the message that even when we have differences, we can overcome them, and grow stronger together. That’s pretty damn inspiring—and if it’s not progressive, I don’t know what is.
(I guess this is my most stereotypical thread so far. I’ve talked about PUA and immigration, and I’m about to reference Nietzsche and slam the Culture books. I think all I need now to complete the bingo card is talking about something scientists in my building are working on.)
Anyway, I don’t think I’ve encountered a fictional utopia that didn’t seem nightmarish to me but the closest I’ve come to that sentiment was probably in the description of the superman / Übermensch in the end of Beyond Good and Evil. The idea of struggling to become “stronger, more evil, and more profound, also more beautiful” through self-mastery and self-overcoming is probably the most utopian project I can imagine.
The difference between the last man, as exemplified by the Culturenik, and the superman is stark and informative. The superman becomes more than merely human through his own will; the last man in the Culture sees no need to become more than he is, despite regularly conversing with gods and titans. The superman has amor fati and views all suffering and ugliness as beautiful as they are necessary parts of the universe no less than joy and beauty; the last man in the Culture shields himself from the possibility of suffering in layers of unreality stacked light-years thick. The comparison only serves to highlight how totally incomparable the two are.
I don’t know if anyone could turn that into a novel. Nietzsche certainly couldn’t; Thus Spoke Zarathustra was nearly incomprehensible and not very entertaining. But if someone did, that would be my utopian fiction.
Ok, you’re gonna have to go easy on me. I know little of Nietzsche and I haven’t even read all the Culture novels. Is “the last man” and the “Culturenik” something that is referenced in a novel I’ve not read yet or philosophy-speak that I don’t understand?
If I understand you correctly, one of the points you’re making is that it’s better to accept suffering and ugliness as in some sense good than to try to prevent them or hide from them. I disagree with this. Obviously suffering and ugliness are a necessary part of the world we live in, but with sufficiently advanced technology (as in The Culture) that needn’t be so. To apply a philosophy derived from scarcity to a post-scarcity society seems wrong to me. Apart from your wording, I don’t see a problem with “shielding oneself from the possibility of suffering in layers of unreality stacked light-years thick”.
Out of interest, would you consider somebody a superman if he managed to make himself love hydrogen above all else through his own will?
Perhaps I’ve understood you correctly and we’ve just come down to a difference in taste, but if you think I misunderstand you I’d be grateful for correction.
The Last Man is the opposite of the Ubermensch: a person who seeks to minimize conflict, individuality, challenge, creativity, etc.
Thanks. To be honest that still sounds more attractive than the Ubermensch to me…
It may sound more attractive, but is it more attractive?
I’ve see way more people advocating such ideals than actually living them.
That is interesting, Aapje, because my feeling was that the opposite was more common – people who claim to loathe the ideals of the Last Man but then live like him anyway.
Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that on this axis:
Last Man — normie — Übermensch
most people that favor the more radical ideas live a not so radical one (even when they have the option to live a more radical life).
Although this may be something that is true about all kinds of radicals.
Good point; that makes a lot of intuitive sense as well.
I’m not sure your implied hypocrisy point is fair. A person might wish to live in a world with minimal conflict and challenge, but might spend their whole life engaged in conflict to try and bring it about. There’s no inconsistency there.
Similarly, perhaps the people who preach Ubermensch really are trying to become Ubermensch but failing because it’s hard. They look like their life is less radical than their ideals, but that might not be for lack of trying.
There are different ways to try to achieve change. You can use an approach that is heavily based on creating and winning conflicts; or an approach that is heavily based on cooperation and mutual understanding.
I don’t think that it is consistent to pick the conflict approach and then (claim to) advocate for cooperation and mutual understanding, when you could default to cooperation and mutual understanding.
In general, this is an issue I have with people who advocate for ‘temporary’ methods that violate important principles, like affirmative action or temporarily giving up civil liberties to fight terrorism. The end goals will never be completely reached, so there will always be justification to keep using the ‘temporary’ methods. At best one can hope as the problem becomes less severe, people use the methods less. However, in practice it seems more common that people get more rabid about solving the problem as it becomes less significant.
Ultimately, society is not static, but there is a constant power struggle. The structures & processes that people put in place to fight for different structures & processes, are themselves structures & processes that effect people.
One exception is war, where we have this notion of making a bunch of societal tradeoffs in favor of winning the war (sometimes including press censorship, drafting people into the Army, rationing, etc.), and we also have the notion that this should end at some point and we should go back to normal.
Alas, we no longer do that kind of war. Instead, we have wars that are never formally declared and that drag on for decades. The War On Terror seems like a governmental power grab that will simply never end–my grandchildren will still be subject to the Patriot Act, and presidents voted for/against by them will be justifying their limited and measured use of nanotechnology weapons against uppity Martian colonists by reference to the AUMF.
Sure. I won’t deny that there are situations where the ends do justify the means.
However, as I said, it’s about what one defaults to.
If you play video games, try playing your favorite video game with godmode turned on sometime.
This will gesture at the value of ugliness and suffering. It is hard to convey outside of experience, however.
Even so, is it necessary for any suffering to exist beyond that which we deliberately introduce for our own enjoyment?
If I’m playing Dark Souls, the fact that I’m constantly at risk of losing an hour of progress is certainly an essential part of the experience. But if I lose an hour of progress in my word processor, that’s a bug, not a feature.
As someone with 100+ deaths in Dark Souls 3, I can attest to the annealing power of repeated failure. I asked my barber, a keen gamer, if he plays DS3. His answer was “Nah, I don’t hate myself enough.”
Rather than self-hatred, I think you need to be willing to let your pride die a hundred deaths and carry on, in order to enjoy the godmode video game experience.
The example given above makes me more skeptical of the value of suffering; if the suffering one experiences playing a difficult videogame is enough, that seems to me to have conceded the point. From the point of view of a medieval peasant, we already live lives “shield[ed] from the possibility of suffering in layers of unreality stacked light-years thick.,”, so if the (extraordinarily minor, by the standards of times past) extra suffering we voluntarily take on in our leisure activities is enough to give us a sense of the struggle necessary to undertake a project of “self-mastery and self-overcoming”, I don’t see why the people living in the Culture are denied this.
As others have said, I’m totally up for some artificial, safe challenge for the purpose of entertainment. I just don’t want any *real* danger or suffering.
Just because I live in a world where I never want for food, my body is healthy and safe and there are plenty of people who want to have sex with me doesn’t mean I can’t play video games, learn musical instruments, climb mountains (safely), read non-utopian fiction and produce art.
This reminds me of a slogan of my previous company “Nothing we do is worth getting hurt over.” I don’t want to get hurt at work, or elsewhere, in fact I do want to avoid it. But I would like to do something worth getting hurt over sometime.
Pursuant to Randy M’s point: I would say that if something’s not worth dying for, it’s not worth living for, since those amount to the same thing in the end.
Not an airtight argument, I’ll concede: just a laconic expression of what I take to be true
Forgive this being a bit blue, but the analogy is perfect – Dark Souls is the BDSM of video games. Dark Souls is painful, but pain isn’t necessarily suffering – it can be quite enjoyable, but only in the proper context, and only for certain people. Most importantly, you can stop and start whenever you want – if the challenge becomes unfun, I can play something else for a while. and come back to it.
(Also, there are a bunch of games that are as difficult and nowhere near as well regarded, because – and this is a point a lot more about video game design than utopias but whatever – Dark Souls is fair in a way other games aren’t. Everything is made to be beatable, upcoming challenges are normally hinted at (tons of places where boulders roll in to you in the games and all of them are marked with channels, blood splatters, etc. that are obvious although sometimes only in retrospect), in general the game is tough but doesn’t “cheat”. Real life is not like that.)
Miracle of Sound’s Dark Souls song seems very relevant to this thread.
Without any needs, pain or unfulfilled want, I’d be surprised if humans in a real version of the Culture still had consciousness in any meaningful sense. At best they would be incredibly immature, far more than the most spoiled brat of the super-rich today.
It sounds to me like either you are using the word “consciousness” in quite a non-standard way or have a very unusual view of how it arises. Could you elaborate?
Did you actually read the culture books? The denizens of The Culture certainly have unfulfilled needs and wants an pain, just not the kind that is tied up with material/health stuff. There are examples of this in almost every book.
I’m thinking of consciousness as having a voice in your head with an ability to make mental models of the present and future. Something like this is where I get that idea: https://slatestarcodex.com/2015/11/03/what-developmental-milestones-are-you-missing/
Where you develop certain milestones through childhood and teenage years to be able to function as an adult.
This is definitely non-standard as I am certainly no expert in definitions of consciousness, and I know very little about AI! I just have an idea that if you prevented people from attaining these developmental milestones through wireheading and the continuous drone support of the culture, after many generations something fundamental would be lost. And perhaps something fundamental to what we would consider consciousness.
I don’t think those depictions are realistic. The culture mostly seems like typical people from today dropped into the future.
The loss of developmental milestones I mention above I think would mean that humans would be very different from humans today. If people today have lost the ability to navigate a city thanks to ten years of smartphones, what would culture citizens lose when they have a drone to guide them and do their every bidding? When they can gland away any bad feelings from screwing up a social situation, how mature will they become socially?
Star Trek’s utopian aspect isn’t shown all that well; what we see is mostly the interaction between the Federation and other cultures. It’s probably a good place for the not-too-ambitious, a great place for scientists and intellectual types (they seem to be respected and there are enormous resources available), and for the very driven in other ways, there are frontiers that are less utopian. Probably pretty good, actually.
The Culture… a great place to be a Mind. Not really interested in being a pet or perhaps a working animal like the human characters in Special Circumstances, or basically sheep kept around for apparently no better reason than an aesthetic preference on the part of the Minds for the rest.
Without the Uniques, “the City and the Stars” is just stasis. Count me out. With the Uniques, IIRC it’s not stable (and it’s terrible for the Uniques themselves), but it’s been a long time since i read it.
1984 is a perfect picture of misery. The smarter you are, the more aware you are of your misery, and the more likely you’ll destroy yourself rebelling. Pass.
Brave New World: Everyone’s got plenty, but it’s maintained not by techno-wonders as with Star Trek but by breeding damaged humans to do the work and be happy about it. It shares with 1984 and the City the property of stasis; unlike Star Trek, there’s no real frontiers, only the Island penal colony. No need for new science either. Also as I recall it has relentless consumption quotas (rather than production quotas), and that’s going to take some of the joy out of consuming. Again, pass.
Star Trek is the clear winner. Apparently at least on Earth (and presumably other Federation core worlds) everyone’s got plenty. There are still status games for those who wish to play them (we see them in Starfleet; also on Vulcan though Vulcan may be its own thing). People good with science and technology are respected, as are artists and diplomats and probably various other professions. People who just need to struggle have the frontier; it’s not a static society. Oh yeah, and INTELLIGENT ALIENS AND FASTER THAN LIGHT SPACESHIPS. How cool is that?
Ok, so I admit I put 1984 in there as a joke. But you never know; around here somebody might come up with a way of defending it.
Why do you not want to be “kept around for no better reason than aesthetic preference on the part of the Minds”? Does it matter? You can do whatever you want. Sheep isn’t the right analogy. It’s more like a wild animal in a beautiful nature reserve, only you don’t have predators and you don’t struggle for resources. Does a large part of your enjoyment of life come from being a member of the most intelligent and powerful species you know of?
Your distinction between stasis and development is a very important one I think. Without the Uniques, there would have been no plot in The City and the Stars; it would just be “let me describe this weird city to you”. But despite the fact that it’s static, it’s a very nice stasis. If you like variety you can play any of the great many total-immersion games. Why does the whole society need to keep changing?
Having said all that, your summing-up of Star Trek is pretty hard to argue with. 😛
The humans in the Culture are not wild; they’ve clearly been domesticated.
No, it’s the other way around. Knowing I am a member of an utterly insignificant species completely dominated by another and existing at its sufferance would be very depressing, like looking into the Total Perspective Vortex from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Of course the Total Perspective is reality, but as Calvin puts it, we can just stay inside with our appliances. In the Culture, the Minds are a bit too close to ignore. Except of course the humans have probably been bred or engineered to be OK with it.
People who couldn’t stand living under the constant view of the Minds probably just leave The Culture and go elsewhere. There are various related and equivalent-level societies, and many of them don’t have AI gods hanging around running things. (Often they have godlike AIs that are still somehow subordinated to the original species; Sentient machine rights are a major cause for The Culture.)
Ok, yeah they’re domesticated. But they’ve got a really big garden to play in, with lots of other pets to play with.
The best thing the Star Trek universe has going for it is that you’re apparently able to just buzz off to a completely empty planet in the middle of nowhere with a magic fusion plant and a replicator and your standard of living will be about the same as anywhere else and no-one will bother you.
Plenty of lone survivors of alien attacks to belie that. But there does seem to be plenty of safe space overall, pardon the pun.
The Culture is… complicated. I don’t have the objections to the Minds that a lot of people do, but the culture Banks paints for it seems hollow, even after twenty years of trying: lots of shallow hedonism, about one obsessed loner hobbyist per book, nothing else. I get the impression that it’d end up being four hundred years’ worth of that long stretch of summer vacation after you’ve read all your new comic books and gotten home from camp and now you’re just sitting around desperately trying to stave off boredom. Not a good time. It’s the lack of real stakes that gets to me; not just that you can’t starve or lose your job, but that no one ever seems to come into serious social conflict either. Maybe this is Banks’ ideology talking; personally, I suspect a materially abundant (I don’t think there’s any such thing as “post-scarcity”) future under benevolent transhuman overlords might end up looking more like high school. That’s not utopian by any means. There’d be shame and disappointment and maybe even misery in it. But it might still be preferable to what we see.
Star Trek’s economically and culturally incoherent and tends to be kind of bland, but it’d be a nice place to live until Starfleet runs out of plot devices and the whole place gets assimilated by the Borg or conquered by eugenic supersoldiers or eaten by a negative space wedgie.
I’ve read the City and the Stars but I don’t remember a damn thing about it.
Ah, interesting. I never had “that long stretch of summer vacation after you’ve read all your new comic books and gotten home from camp and now you’re just sitting around desperately trying to stave off boredom” which is perhaps why The Culture appeals more to me than to you. With abundant resources and advanced technology, you could just go on holiday again, or read more comic books – ok, I realise I’m stretching your analogy but I think the point still stands. The point is there’s plenty to relieve your boredom. More sophisticated entertainment than you can imagine.
Your point about social conflict is a good one. And I can see how differences in ideology would lead to different conclusions. Perhaps Banks believed that most social conflict is given rise to by some sort of competition for resources.
But there is some serious social conflict in The Culture. In one novel somebody cheats on their partner and their partner is very upset about it. I won’t go into more detail for fear of spoilers, but the point is that there are a few weird people in The Culture who still experience jealousy. In a large and well-connected society, such weirdos would probably find each other and live contentedly with their ancient norms. Everybody else could leave them to it and have sex with a different beautiful person every day.
“…more like high school”
Sorry, but I really don’t see that. High school is a place where immature people are constrained by strict rules enforced by incompetent overlords to a relatively small space with an unchosen group of other immature people to do boring stuff. Every one of those things is the opposite to the experience of Banks’s characters.
This and some other sentiments in this thread are common criticisms of the Culture novels, but are so strange to me when phrased as if these issues weren’t themselves a subject of the novels. Banks clearly had them very much in mind and even lamp-shaded a few of them.
For one thing you find a lot of these sentiments expressed on the part of Culture-critical societies in the novels. And the irony of everyone with any ambition trying to get into Special Circumstances (and often screwing up their lives in the process) is a common preoccupation.
The thing about The Culture is that it’s a culture. He doesn’t present it as the natural end-state of any society that overcomes scarcity, but as one possible state that works, to the extent it does, for the people who subscribe to its principles, which include quite a bit of explicit irony. The minds are the way they are partly by design:
The Culture novels are to a great extent about the problem of how boring abundance would be. And Banks doesn’t even pretend to solve it — he knowingly sets most of the action in other societies or at times of threat. To be in the Culture is in part to be ironically accepting of that boredom except when you aren’t.
I’m aware of that; it’s what I was trying to get at with “…despite twenty years of trying”. I’m just not very satisfied with the way it’s handled. Banks lampshades it when he can (Consider Phlebas is almost entirely about these criticisms) and glosses over it when he can’t, but as you say, he never even attempts to come up with a serious solution. That could be a point in its favor if it wasn’t severe enough to threaten my suspension of disbelief, but it is, so it isn’t: a fictional culture having warts that the author’s aware of is one thing, a culture that only works because everyone in it doesn’t act human is another.
This strikes me as incomplete. Banks doesn’t present it as the only option, but he does consistently present it as the best option, dissenters and eccentrics notwithstanding. And because of this, he usually keeps his fingers on the scales. He wants us to root for the Culture, so he makes its opponents brutal religious zealots (Consider Phlebas) or racist, sexist totalitarians who’re into murder porn (Player of Games) or genocidal revanchists (Look to Windward) or people that literally built their own Hell, allied with a Zuckerberg/Murdoch type character whom he makes a rapist and slaver just so we get the point (Surface Detail).
I’m a doctor, not a scriptwriter!
This is a thing that happens? Because my memories of vacations from school are basically the highlight of my childhood and i cannot for the life of me remember ever being bored during them. Desperately trying to stave off boredom more accurately describes my entire experience with schooling. It got so bad that during high school i took to sleeping in class, or skipping it entirely to go to the library or the gym. Boredom isn’t having nothing to do, there’s lots of things to do! Boredom is not being able to do the things you want to be doing, or worse being forced to do things you don’t want to do.
Seen that way, the lack of real stakes is ideal, because without any stakes, there’s no reason to ever do anything you don’t want to be doing.
Like fion and skef, I also don’t get this criticism. If you have an entire galaxy of things to do and you are bored, it is really more of a failure of imagination than a problem with your situation. Go study weird space monsters like the guy in Look to Windward, or get really good at games, or make art out of flying islands. Hell, if you get bored with that you can always try to go to a different galaxy or sublimate.
I would move to the Empire Of The Star (see https://eldraeverse.com/ ) at first opportunity, taking out whatever loans or bonded indentures from an Eldrae bank or an Immigration Support Association as necessary to purchase transit, and to purchase the necessary bio- neuro- and psych- upgrades and repairs needed to fit in there.
Heartbeat. Sign me up. If I never have to see, talk to, or deal with another zakhrehs again, I will be overjoyed.
That sounds interesting, but I’m not finding a short description of the Empire of the Star. What’s good about it?
“Welcome to the Empire” [ https://eldraeverse.com/tag/welcome-to-the-empire/ ] is a fun playful introduction.
Author here: sadly, I can’t think of a really good short introduction in work form any better than that which Mark Atwood has already linked to (although there’s the TV Tropes page, I suppose: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/Eldraeverse ), and I don’t feel it’s particularly my place to speak as to why other people like it.
But as of possible interest to long-term readers here, I might suggest this: https://eldraeverse.com/2016/02/23/the-importance-of-murdering-gods/ .
The thing about the Culture is that its utopian-ness depends entirely on the benevolence of the Minds. If the Minds decided, for inexplicable-to-humans reasons that seemed good and right to them, that all the humanoid Culture citizens needed to be exterminated to the last child, or subjected to the most horrifying tortures imaginable, or permanently locked away in some simulated hell, then that’s what they would do. The people in the Culture novels are pampered pets, but with a slightly different set of Minds, they’d be factory-farmed chickens.
Might be a more general problem: just look at the Nauptre (who are even more technologically sophisticated than the Culture, but also very intent on sending their own kind to a simulated hell if they misbehave during life).
True. The Minds are absolutely terrifying. Luckily they do seem to be benevolent.
Having said that, who knows what simulated hells they might create in The Land of Infinite Fun…
I’m reading Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed and neither of the two societies depicted strike me as very utopian at all, despite the various blurbs indicating that one or both of them is supposed to be. I value individuality and material comfort too much to give Anarres the title, and Urras’s situation is pretty close to the one on Earth (possibly at a slightly more/less advanced level of technology).
I like the Culture books and while the problems with that sort of utopia seem real and difficult, I don’t know that I could come up with anything I’d prefer in practice.
My impression of The Dispossessed was that the anarchist culture was realistically non-utopian, the non-anarchist culture unrealistically bad. It felt like a description of the U.S. written by a loyal communist who had never been out of the Soviet Union.
I did find one thing unrealistic about Anarres: the apparent absence of any sort of radical internal dissent. This would have been the expected thing in the self-selected founding generation, but not 160 years on– even given that their schools seem to be indoctrination-heavy even compared to our own. In addition to the protagonist and his friends, who believe the society has strayed from the Odonian ideal, there ought to be people who think the Odonian ideal is bunk. If the book were a journalistic account rather than a novel, I’d suspect that many of the so-called nuchnibi are the missing dissidents– and that the author is complicit with the Anarresti authorities in psychologizing their dissent.
Haven’t read it but will add it to my list.
Let me second the recommendation! Also The Left Hand of Darkness if you haven’t read that.
I found the technique of alternating chapters of the main story and little stories giving background about the world in The Left Hand of Darkness worked a lot better for me than the alternating chapters of present time story and past story in The Dispossessed. But yes, buth are good.
The original tag-line for the book was, “The magnificent epic of an ambiguous utopia!” Anarres is not a perfectly good place, and isn’t supposed to be.
Oh, I know—Shevek’s and Bedap’s experiences with the bureaucracy make that much clear. But even the basic model that Anarres is built on isn’t what I’d want in a utopia, as I think it was for Le Guin.
Meanwhile, the back-cover text of my edition is confused about which world is supposed to be the alleged utopia: “Shevek must make the unprecedented journey to the utopian mother planet, Urras…”
I’m not sure whether you’re serious, but that part of the back-cover is surely deliberate. Part of the point is that Urras looks utopian at first, until one realizes how authoritarian it is.
Utopias I’d live in: Pendor.
Basically the author’s grand unified serial-numbers-filed-off version of every scifi universe he ever loved, with Ringworld/Known Space being one of the biggest contributors but a not insignificant Culture element. The actual writing is largely “a civilization of immortal furry races live, love, and fuck alongside their creator, a 1980s Earth human granted nigh-omnipotent scientific power by himself in a stable time loop who steadfastly refuses to be venerated as a god”.
It’s not Great Art Sci-Fi, plotwise (and yes, there is plenty of plot over something like six thousand years of future history, even if this is fundamentally an erotica series) but it consistently feels like a comfortable, lived-in universe where most people in the main civilization put in a great deal of effort to make sure that nobody has to live a life that’s unalterably shitty or otherwise beyond their control – but also a universe where there is plenty of adventure and excitement and real legitimate danger to be had, if that’s what you want. That’s the balance I’m looking for in a legitimate utopia.
One of my favorite elements, in light of the current state of world politics, is the Pendorians’ immigration mechanism: if you wish to become part of their society, you must “walk the Great Hall”, i.e. be tested by a nebulously AI-mediated experience which will a) make some attempt to ensure your personality is compatible and b) convert your body into that of a Pendorian race, at semi-possibly-influenced-random (Pendorian Human is an option, but not a common one compared to the ~dozen anthro races, two of which are centaur-body-pattern and two of which are uplifted animals. The method of choice is never explained). This raises the stakes appropriately, I think – you want citizenship in our immortal post-scarcity society? Fine, but you have to be willing to sacrifice *who you are* in the most fundamental way, to show that you mean it/raise the odds that anyone possessed of that courage will be a net benefit to us.
When I think of utopian societies, one of my favorites is from a PS2 era JRPG called Star Ocean 3. The gist of it is that there is a society that basically has infinite resources and energy that has built at least one universe simulation.
Where it seems utopian is that while citizens have tons of autonomy to go and do as they please in the “real world”, for any reason (mostly recreation) they can create a new life for themselves in this simulated universe. So say you are feeling angry and want to vent frustrations, you can go live for 30 years as a warlord on a planet that mimics medieval Europe. Maybe you want to exist as a starfish or a tree for a while. A starship captain or an alien space dragon etc, all possible.
Its a ps2 game so obviously these ideas aren’t exactly fleshed out, but just the scale of personal choice, being able to do or be literally anything at any time on a whim and with no real cost for changing your mind seems like pure utopia.
Kindof a ridiculous answer i guess because it handwaves away basically all limitations to pursuing personal enjoyment while addressing none of the realistic limitations or consequences to something like that existing.
But hey, thats utopia.
That does indeed sound pretty awesome.
“Fun fact” I haven’t thought about in a while:
One side of my body has consistently been a bit “ahead” of the other in with respect to marks of age. I developed body hair earlier on that side, particularly on my chest, and there was a clear asymmetric bias well into adulthood. Now I have more grey hair on that side (on my head and chest, and now a couple hairs on my arms) and the count of “age spots” is clearly higher on the same side. If I were to make an estimate of the difference in terms of time I would say 3-4 years.
It was the chimera theory in the links reminded me of this, but that would of course be an absurdly baroque explanation.
Does anyone else have this or is aware of other examples? Or is there enough evidence against the possibility to suggest I must be imagining things? (I did point it out to someone once or twice when I was younger and they agreed it was a real thing.)
Driving and the sun-
Is the “older” side the same or different from your dominant hand? If I had to pick a side of my body as showing more signs of age, it would probably be the left (I’m pretty strongly right-handed; have a few more grey hairs in the left side of my beard), which is maybe not what I’d expect, since presumably I use the right side more. This is, however, in keeping with my left side just being a little crappier in general (weaker, less coordinated, muscles slightly smaller, more prone to injury, aches and pains).
Right handed, “older” side is the left.
What research/poking around I’ve done on this subject always turns up the sunlight/driving theory referenced above, which could explain the age spots but not the body hair.
I find this interesting from a gerontology/life extension perspective because it’s clear that simply doing less (caloric restriction, being a tortoise rather than a humming bird, at the extreme end, cryogenic preservation) is one way to age more slowly, yet it also doesn’t surprise me that much, somehow, that the side getting used more often also seems to age more slowly, perhaps because it just generally sucks up more bodily resources (antioxidants, nutrients, whatever), and also because there is an extent to which activity is health-promoting (perhaps for reasons of hormesis, etc.).
Interesting to me, because, ideally what we’d all like is more active time, not simply more time.
Let’s consider a hypotherical scenario.
A Canadian sports league for children has a tradition of fight songs for the teams, using new words set to various old tunes. Rule Britannia, Anchors Aweigh, and The Battle Hymn of the Republic are often used. This year, one coach has done something novel, and used the tune from Panzerlied, set to innocuous rah-rah go-team words.
a) just fine,
b) edgy but in bounds,
c) over the line but forgivable, or
d) completely outrageous?
I’d say C
Probably could squeak it in under b, especially if the coach was careful to say the tune was from the French Foreign Legion song Kepi Blanc.
I lean towards (b) for this (personally I wouldn’t think it’s even really that edgy either, but I acknowledge I’m probably in a minority for this). As I understand it, the Panzerlied was a soldier’s song, not really an ideologue’s song. The original lyrics make little to no mention of politics – it’s just “we’re German soldiers, and we’ll fight and die for Germany”.
However, if you pushed it further and used the tune of the Horst-Wessel-Lied or the SS Anthem — that’s another matter.
I would like the answer to be B, but I’m afraid it might be C or D.
I find the Panzerlied less objectionable than the jihadi hymn, so I’ll go with A.
This is… a really weird analogy. Are we supposed to not care enough about anything to die for it? Because “making men free” in the most literal sense of freeing them from chattel slavery fits the bill, in my book.
The Battle Hymn of the Republic is amazing. A song inciting people to violent jihad would not be. And there’s no inconsistency there, so long as you also recognize that slavery is bad and religious freedom is good.
It’s not an analogy, just a translation of the word “jihad”. The Battle Hymn of the Republic is literally a song inciting people to violent jihad.
That God might happen to coincidentally be on the side of justice in this case doesn’t change that.
Why wouldn’t the object level morality matter here? Unless you’re against using religion to fuel violence, even if it’s pretty specific violence in favor of something good, which I suppose it understandable.
Question: is the Battle Hymn of the Republic equally immoral to a song that, say, exhorted Confederate soldiers to fight for slavery, or is it less immoral but still immoral? No rhetorical trap here, just curious – you have a perspective on this I think I haven’t explored before.
I guess that’s a better question for @SamChevre; I claim the song is indeed a song inciting people to violent war in the name of God, but I don’t claim it’s an immoral song.
To clarify: I recognize that it’s a call to fight and die for certain values. My point was that this isn’t “objectionable”, as Sam Chevre claimed it is, if those values are in fact worth fighting and dying for.
So, yes, I’m appealing to the object level to support the assertion that the Battle Hymn isn’t “objectionable”, as Chevre claimed it was. I think that should have been clear enough from my comment.
The answer, as with many things, is that your question lacks context and therefore is invalid.
Did the coach pick the tune out of a bin and have no knowledge of the context? What happens when the context is pointed out? Did they know it was originally a German army song and not think “I wonder whether this is connected with that particular iteration of the German army?” Did they just know it as a song sung by the Chilean Army to this day?
Did the coach explicitly know the historical context? Why did the the coach then pick the song? Did they explicitly pick it because it was a song adapted by and for the Wehrmacht? Did they pick it because the German defense minister banned it from the songbooks of the German army? If so, why? What is the motivation for picking the song in that context?
If the coach is from Chile and just remembers the song from their childhood, the answer is probably (a) for the coach, but it’s still going to be retired as soon as the broader context is known. If they did it to anger the PC SJW libtards it’s probably between (c) and (d) because they are fucking up their job by being an asshole. If it’s “I secretly agree with the Nazis and it gives me joy to get the undesirables to sing a song that was nearly part of their permanent demise” then it’s (d).
That is a quality response. Let me express my appreciation.
Not only do i think it’s just fine, i think singing the actual Panzerlied is just fine. It’s a generic warrior song, containing no references to Nazi ideology or political goals. In fact the Panzerlied is sufficiently unobjectionable that it’s still sung by multiple military units around the world. From wikipedia:
“The Panzerlied became the official hymn of the armored forces in the Chilean army and is sung during parades. The lyrics were translated to Castilian Spanish, but the title was left unchanged. The Panzerlied has become one of the most widely recognized German traditions among the Chilean people.
The song is also sung by some motorized and parachute units of the Italian army, most especially by the 185th Paratroopers Division Folgore under the title of Sui Monti e Sui Mar. In France, the lyrics were adapted slightly to become the Marche des Chars used by the 501e régiment de chars de combat, and the tune was borrowed for the French Foreign Legion’s song Képi Blanc.
The Korean adaptation of the song is also used by the South Korean Army as a march for the country's tank and motorized units.
The first, second and fifth stanzas of the song are used by the Brazilian Army under the title of "Canção Da Tropa Blindada" (Eng. "Song Of the Armored Troops") with the lyrics translated to Portuguese."
Note that soldiers from two different countries that were literally invaded by tankers who sang the Panzerlied, sing the Panzerlied themselves. That’s how unobjectionable it is.
So now that it’s the culture war open thread, I’ve recently noticed a particularly bizarre case of outgroup homogeneity bias and was wondering if anyone else noticed the same thing or thinks I’m missing the point.
Ever since that guy went on a massacre and left behind an incel manifesto, the term and the community got a huge boost in notoriety. And the term incel has become a more-or-less generic epithet. That part makes sense.
The thing is, I keep seeing people describe PUA and game practicioners as “incels” which is incredibly confusing. It’s the equivalent of yelling “get a real job hippy!” at an accounting major. What do you think he’s doing? A lot of those guys start as virgins, yeah that’s true, but the only way they’re going to change that (short of prostitution) is by actually learning how to attract women.
I get that nobody is putting that much thought into it, it’s just a mindless insult. But it’s very jarring to hear.
Insults aren’t supposed to be logical, they are supposed to elicit an emotional response. PUAs are often people who are sensitive about their ability to land a date, labeling them an incel attacks their insecurity. It is more equivalent to yelling “get a real job hippie” to an accountant whose parents are disappointed that he didn’t become a doctor.
Spotted Toad dug a bit into incel demographics, for the curious.
+1 worth a read
I feel this goes in a similar direction as the Parable of the Lightning.
My favorite comment on Douthat’s article is still this.
Is there more to that joke than a pun and a song reference?
It’s a much better than average pun in my opinion, especially since in addition to being apropos the topic and a song reference, I expect it’s also how the person actually feels about “sex redistribution.”
Maybe the response makes sense if you view PUA tactics as something intrinsically harmful to women that only desperate men would partake of, much lesser but similar to going on a violent rampage after years of frustration.
It’s interesting but I don’t buy it.
I might be dating myself here but fuckboy is the usual insult I see directed at guys who manipulate or decieve women into sex. And afaik nobody calls fuckboys incels.
Now that I think about it, the difference might be authenticity? A fuckboy may have false intentions but that’s supposed to be his true nature being revealed. PUA is a learned skill, that’s the whole point, so it can’t be innate.
Stop practicing pick up lines in the mirror, maybe?
(Also, I owe you one “straight man” comment whenever you like)
It’s more general than that — about as close as I can come is “a guy women might sleep with, but whom they don’t respect”. Implications of shallowness, insincerity, maybe immaturity. Not necessarily deception or manipulation, although he might be deceptive or manipulative. I hear it most often from women who’re sleeping with the dude but are frustrated by a perceived lack of long-term potential.
That’s what it’s supposed to mean but I’ve never seen it used for a guy who wasn’t “boyfriend material.”
Usually I hear it as sour grapes. When one woman is upset that a guy ghosted, her friends will jump in and say he was a fuckboy. The fuckboy generally isn’t the guy getting dumped or rejected, he’s the guy who she wishes she had dumped first or rejected initially.
Then again that might just be my friend group being idiosyncratic. They’re mostly women but they’re very unusual women in a lot of ways.
My guess is that a lot of insults that come up in these situations are friendship based. The obvious (if not always correct) answer to “why did he ghost me” is “because he found someone better*, and if they had a superficial relationship then that basically translates into “he found someone hotter” which translates into “he only thought 1 dimension of you was important, and even that wasn’t good enough for him”. The point of the insult is to support the friend, not be an accurate description of the target of hate. Logical consistency is not the name of the game.
*The worse answer is “he’d rather be alone than be with you”.
This. It’s a relationship version of “You can’t fire me – I quit!” Basically “He didn’t dump you – you were only using him for sex anyway!”
FWIW I’ve heard “fuckboy” used to refer to guys rejected for unwanted advances.
Sounds to me like having a word for a waiter that you tip extra well even though you secretly did not enjoy the service.
That analogy seems to imply that sex is a prize men get for doing an extra-good job of respecting women. That it’s not might be the only thing that feminists and PUA types agree on.
Not disagreeing in the slightest with your larger point, but I wonder how often the real answer is “because he didn’t feel like dealing with one particular message at one particular time/forgot/didn’t reply for some other trivial reason, was slightly unsure about the whole thing in the first place, and then got into a weird shame spiral about it”. I think there’s a lot less uncaring calculation and a lot more shambolic emotional idiocy around these kinds of behaviours than generally acknowledged. There world is not short of Corrigans.
@Nornagest: “Step right up! Three tries, respect women on all three and win a teddy bear!”
I’m thinking “incel” lately connotes “dude whom no sane woman would sleep with”, more than “dude who isn’t getting laid”. PUA, that, plus “…if you weren’t pressuring or deceiving them into sex”.
I think it’s like “MRA” – since the people calling names don’t know anyone who would admit that they belong in any of the groups, they don’t have the information to make fine distinctions.
Based on my lefty friends’ denunciations, I think that what they mean is that incel and PUA often both subscribe to redpill or redpill-adjacent theories, which my friends see as “toxic entitlement.”
I think it’s just the insult du jour. I got called one for praising the NJ House candidate who called diversity “a bunch of crap”, for instance.
This does not seem like rocket science to me.
There are guys who can pick up girls, and then there “pick up artists” who promise to tell you the “secret” to picking up girls if you don’t know why or how you are failing to pick up girls.
So, if you have no “luck with the ladies”, the odds you are going to hang out in PUA communities goes way up. Just because you want to be a PUA, even call yourself one online, doesn’t mean it’s working for you.
Even if you want dispute my characterization of PUA spaces, they don’t need to be accurate to explain the conflation which is confusing you. All that matters is that conflation exists and is common.
My impression is also that many of the men who are really looking for a girlfriend/wife, rather than one night stands, ‘graduate’ out of the communities if the advice works for them. So the people who are left behind are probably disproportionately ‘players’ and perhaps also disproportionately those for whom PUA advice doesn’t work too well.
Yeah, agreed with this: you’d expect people who can’t get laid to be the ones trying to use what you see as a culty and immoral attempt to get laid.
A hippy doesn’t want to make money and accounting majors are a generally recognised/respectable way to make money, so the original analogy doesn’t work. It’s more like stereotyping poor desperate people as spending all their time trying to make money through stupid online ‘this one trick earned me £10k’ schemes rather than just getting a normal job.
I mean, throwing rocks at people for not being able to get laid/relationships is shitty behaviour, much like throwing rocks at poor people is, even if in both cases their situation leave them more likely to end up doing criminal. But I don’t think the incel/PUA association is unusual or confused.
I think you misunderstood the original analogy. Accounting majors don’t have jobs or make money. Most are actively going into debt. They’re students.
Accounting majors aspire to become accountants.
Similarly, the guy reading PUA books aspires toward having lots of dates.
The analogy is saying that shouting “Get a Job!” at someone who’s spending $$$ on job-qualifications is weird.
It’s not untrue, exactly. The person is unemployed. But they’re aware of this, agree it’s bad, and are taking active steps to change their circumstance.
See also: Yelling at the fat guy in the gym.
No, “accounting major” is smuggling in a whole bunch of assumptions.
Substitute “Street newspaper salesmen” and you are a lot closer to a correct analogy.
Or maybe a lot better is door-to-door magazine sales. A few folks do well, most people get out as quick as they can, no real job skills are built. It’s a hustle.
Given that we’re talking about popular perception, that’s a good point.
I really don’t want to have another debate about whether or not PUA works. But regardless of that, it’s definitely true that a lot of people are very determined to believe that it can’t work or at least doesn’t work on “good girls.”
@Nabil ad Dajjal:
Is it possible to do things to increase your odds of successfully completing a “sexual conquest”? Certainly.
Is it possible to successfully use psychologically manipulative techniques like “negging”? Yes.
But social animal games work best for people who play social animal games was well. Not playing social animal games well is the basic problem for many people who find themselves frustrated and shut out of the world of dating.
My impression is that incel is applied to PUAs because they’re both non-standard male groups. I think it’s malicious sloppiness without a theory behind it expect that it seems safe and easy to insult men for failing to attract women whether it’s true or not. It’s like calling a woman fat, and now that I think about it, that’s also an insult related to not being attractive.
Do you know whether MGTOWs get called incels?
That’s lazy, Nancy. Catholic priests are a non-standard male group, and even (mostly) celibate. They won’t be conflated with incels or PUAs.
Gay men, trans men, nudist drum circle men, men who are furries, … Do I need to list more?
Catholic priests are high status. Calling someone a priest is not an insult, even among athiests.
The primary dividing line between MGTOW and incel is whether or not he has a choice in the matter. There are other differences but that’s the key. And it’s legitimately a very blurry line.
A lot of MGTOW stuff I’ve read reads to me like sour grapes. Many come off as just extremely cautious but a plurality if not a majority are guys who had poor prospects in the dating pool and decided to throw in the towel.